On July 2, 1776, Congress voted and unanimously approved the document later known as the Declaration of Independence.
Some weeks before, at the suggestion of John Adams, a committee of five members of the Congress was formed, and Thomas Jefferson was given the responsibility for writing the document. After many drafts, he finished the assignment.
With only a few changes, Congress ratified the wording on July 4. Many people, including President Lincoln, consider that these few words of the Declaration typify the basic concepts of American freedom: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Later, Jefferson would say that liberty is “unobstructed action according to our will, but rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.”
Understood within the term “rightful liberty” is a governmental responsibility to protect itself and its citizens from enemies and self-destruction.
Perhaps good government may be best summarized when it guarantees to all the protection of life, the free exercise of actions along with the consequences of those actions, and the right and control of property, both personal and real.
Jefferson was the quiet pen of freedom; John Adams was the voice. Shortly after becoming president, Adams spoke: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
For Christians, a few of Christ’s words broaden the meaning of John Adam’s charge when Christ said: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Living in truth frees men. For freedom to abound we, as a whole, must embrace many great principles and characteristics including but not all inclusive: honesty, integrity, hard work, accountably, the existence of deity and charity.
Given the current state of state of our nation’s moral character we could become quite negative. We truly are concerned about our national moral health, when statistics clearly show that the percentage of our citizens who voluntarily receive significant government assistance is growing.
We are concerned about the large percentage of our citizens being incarcerated and what this says about our moral character.
We wonder how charitable and honest we are when considering the growing salary differences between CEOs and their employees. We are appalled by the lack of honest leadership in Washington, D.C.
Although the challenges we face are many, we choose not to despair. We are a resilient people and in the darkest times, great American leaders have taught us to have hope, live by faith and stand against those who stand against the principles that made this nation great.
Through the steadfastness of leaders like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, we have learned that we each must be beacons of truth so that others might find strength to stand in troubled times.
We choose to follow their example because we know it works.