Sunday, July 02, 2006

July Fourth

Before I return to my normal job of beefing about this or that, I want to weigh in with my thoughts on Independence Day. We really should pause and consider the miracle which brought about our country. We started with a British heritage, which against the tide of that time, recognised individual rights. Then in a wonderful coincidence, Adam Smith published the still definitive text of capitalism, "The Wealth of Nations", almost to the day of our Declaration of Independence.

The men who came together in the stifling heat of a Philadelphia summer to craft our Constitution were another miracle. The lesser lights of that body would probably be university chancellors today, while the guiding minds, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, Washington, Adams and even Hamilton, were barely short of gods come to visit. Perfection they did not give us.

We fought one of the bloodiest wars in human history to atone for the original sin of slavery. On that, I only ask that you remember, had they forced the Question in Philadelphia, there would have been no Union for Lincoln to preserve.

We have moved incrementally, but steadily, to a level of freedom unmatched in the modern world. We are not without fault, no government operated by imperfect people ever could be. I want to point out that all these shortcomings notwithstanding, we are the envy of the world, and so long as common people work to improve what is, so we shall remain.

Pay no mind to the detractors in the world at large. It is only natural that the slings and arrows of world opinion are aimed mostly at the largest target. Here I apply my "Fences" theory. Look at any country with fences on its borders. Are they built to keep people in, or to keep people out?

The fact that one of our largest debates today involves how to limit with some degree of compassion, the flood of people wanting in, whether from political oppression, or pure economic greed, convinces me, all else aside, that we are truly perceived by the world as the best place on the planet to live.

Do we sit and bask in self-congratulatory glory? Only if we are fools. What has been given us is an excellent starter kit. "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing". That truism is not specific to any passing Administration or Congress, freedom requires constant care and maintainence.

That's us folks, you and me. City just said something you don't like? Call your Councilman and beef about it. Find out what it will take to change it, then do it. We are fortunate beyond belief that we can do these things without risking our "Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honors." Not to sound too highblown, but the American Revolution was founded on thousands of heated conversations in taverns, churchyards and over dinners, by people who then went out and did their part, large or small. We owe those who risked it all to give us our freedom the small efforts to maintain it.

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