Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 235th Birthday to U.S.!

It was 235 years ago today that the Continental Congress passed the Declaration of Independence, and it was eventually signed by 56 of our Founding Traitors.

We usually refer to them (and a few other notables from that period) as our "Founding Fathers", but at that time, they were legally subjects of the British crown. Declaring independence made them traitors. Today we don't think of them that way because the colonists won the War for Independence, but if they had lost, they'd probably be remembered mostly as traitors who failed at rebellion.

I appreciate our freedom and history as much as anyone, and would sacrifice my life for our nation as quickly as anyone today, but I've often wondered what my opinions and actions would have been during that time. Holding rule-of-law in high regard, I may have been a Royalist, as were many colonists at the time.

I've also wondered more than once how the signers of the Declaration would fit into our current labels of liberal vs. conservative. It's my perception that our current conservatives are generally strong Constitutionalists, based on principles such as the fact that we owe our continued freedom and prosperity largely to that set of laws. It's also my perception that our current liberals generally don't care to adhere to the rule-of-law principle in that they're willing to forsake rule-of-law for expediency in attaining their political goals, despite how dangerous that path is even to their own interests. (I think many liberals are principled in the aspect that they want to do good, but are short-sighted when they endorse a simple current-majority-rules approach.)

Our Founding Fathers valued liberty highly enough to risk their lives in rebellion, so rule-of-law wasn't paramount if that rule was tyrannical. Yet they had a legal precedent of sorts in the English civil war from a century past, and a major purpose of the Declaration of Independence was to explain their carefully-reasoned justification for the rebellion. By their written testimonies and by the fact that they were pitting 13 small colonies against one of the strongest militaries in the world (they were not only risking their lives, but with little assurance of success), it seems clear that they were acting on principles.

These and other reasons lead me to think that a large majority of our Founding Fathers would have been somewhere in the middle between our current liberals and conservatives.

As a modern-day patriot, it bothers me not to know with certainty which side I would have ended up on, but there are just too many what-ifs for me to figure that out. What I can figure out, happily, like most of our Founders, is that I can give thanks to Divine Providence for creating a nation with a degree of freedom that is awesome in its historical context, and has directly blessed me, my family, and all my fellow-citizens.

So, as a grateful beneficiary of their sacrifices, I wish a very happy birthday to all of U.S.

May we as a nation become ever-more deserving of our freedoms, and much better at helping those who still yearn for the liberty we hold so dear.