We forget some of the principles this country was founded on. Yes, it was for freedom. Freedom not to be under a tyrannical government. Freedom for its citizens to practice their own religion, get a good education, move from one class system into another, have a voice in the way the government was run, and freedom to care for one another. The founding members of this country wanted to escape an oppressive and unfair government. An ocean wasn’t enough to create the kind of country they wanted to live in so they rose up and said, “No! We are going to create a country where all people have rights to a better life in the way they want to live it.” Actually, at the beginning it was only white men who had rights. The founding fathers (they were all white men) didn’t fully understand they weren’t really forming a free country for all, just men. So they were misguided. As a nation we had some learning to do and since then we have learned and advanced into a truly free country for all, on paper anyway.
This isn’t a Christian nation. It was founded by men, most of whom acknowledged there was a God, but that doesn’t mean the nation belongs to any religious practice but does allow all religions to be practiced. That alone is a big deal. Right now in this world people are imprisoned for practicing a religion other than the government approved religion. We are not that country.
The United States is a place of freedom for all. The preamble of the Constitution sums up what this country is founded on best: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
The role of the government and citizens of this wonderful experiment is to support justice, do what we can to insure peace for everyone (domestic tranquility) as well as support one another to have basic physical, social and economic needs met (promote general welfare). We are to think about how our actions will affect the general population.
We are given the freedom to thrive and grow in an environment where we are protected and provided for. We can get an education and become a productive adult within our society to add to the domestic tranquility, demonstrate justice, participate in the common defense and ensure the blessings of liberty continue for the generations to follow.
Sadly, many people have forgotten these basic tenets our country was founded on. We do things that benefit only ourselves. We cut corners to save ourselves money (or make more) but then sometimes in the process we hurt others (letting toxic waste flow into a stream is cheaper than processing it in a safer way so the waste doesn’t end up in drinking water that damages others). Laws have had to be added to help protect us when people don’t care. We don’t like laws. I don’t think our founding fathers intended for us to have so many laws but I think they were naive and blinded to their own selfishness: women didn’t have rights, slavery was legal, and they viewed Native Americans as savages, just to name a few.
We’ve had to do a lot of growing as individuals and as a nation. We’ve had to enact laws to step in and make it harder to violate justice, domestic tranquility and general welfare. As technology and situations change, new laws have to be put in place to address the ways we hurt others. And on this July 4th, the hot topic is wearing masks. We need to ask what is the reason for wearing one? Is it recommended so the government can take away your rights or is it because they believe it is in the best interest of people (general welfare and domestic tranquility)? I don’t like wearing a mask at all. I wear one because I want to do what I can to help others and it just might help. I care about the common good not just my good.
As we approach the celebration of the founding of this truly wonderful country, memorize the preamble (School House Rock put it to music way back when I was young, it’s catchy and easy to remember). Put what you do through the filter of: is it just, does it perpetuate domestic tranquility, does it promote the general welfare of others, will it be a benefit to future generations? Take on the role of bringing goodness and kindness not only to our country but also to this world. It will create a free and peaceful existence for you, too!