Monday, July 3, 2017

An Independence Day Meditation

Tomorrow Americans celebrate their Independence Day, the day set aside to commemorate the signing of our Declaration of Independence from the Mother Country and the commencement of our experiment as a constitutional republic.

Citizens of most of the world's nations can point to aspects of their history of which they're justly proud and other aspects which they could wish never happened. Americans are no different. There's much to be proud of and some things we could wish were not part of our history. Even so, the cavils of malcontents primarily in our universities notwithstanding, we have much to celebrate.

America was founded on certain principles which are rarely enough observed, even in this modern era, despite the lip-service often paid to them. Our Founders declared that all men are created equal, a claim that made the eventual emancipation of slaves and full citizenship of women inevitable.

They forged a nation based on the principles that governments derive their powers from the consent of the governed and that human beings are endowed by God with inherent rights that can't be taken away without due process.

These two principles were alien to the communist and socialist totalitarianisms of the 20th century, a circumstance which resulted in two world wars, countless smaller conflicts, and over 100 million corpses. Our Founders also guaranteed that we'd have the right to free speech and the freedom to practice our religion, two essential rights without which no society can be truly free.

Yes, there are black marks. We treated the Indians horribly, practiced chattel slavery for seventy years after becoming a nation, and contemporary urban crime and dysfunction is as distressing as it is undeniable, but though it may sound like boastfulness or chauvinism (I truly don't mean it to be), it's hard to think of any nation or empire in history that has been more powerful, brought greater prosperity to its people and those of the world, and has at the same time exceeded America in terms of sheer moral goodness.

The point has been made by others that America is one of the few countries where one can immigrate from anywhere in the world and become an American. What's meant by that is this: Moving to Japan doesn't make you Japanese. Moving to China doesn't make you Chinese. Moving to Mexico doesn't make you Mexican and moving to France doesn't make you French, at least not in the sense that moving to America makes you American.

The very fact that so many people want to come here, that the free world looks to America for leadership - moral, political, and military - is compelling evidence for the conviction that America is indispensable.

If America ceased to exist what would be the likely consequence? Europe would eventually become a vassal to an expansionist Russia; North Korea would undoubtedly swallow up South Korea and perhaps Japan; China would certainly grab Taiwan and perhaps Indonesia and the Philippines; India and Pakistan, two nuclear nations, would seek to settle old scores; and Israel would be in a fight for its existence against much of the Muslim world, a fight that'd probably also result in nuclear war.

It's not unrealistic to fear that without America much of the world would spiral into a state of darkness and violent chaos, with freedom flickering out almost everywhere.

On this Fourth of July let's humbly and gratefully celebrate the fact that America is still the hope of freedom-loving people everywhere. Let's all work, those of us who are Americans, to keep it that way and to strive continuously to be worthy citizens of this great nation.