OPINION – Independence Day is a curious holiday. Next to Christmas, it is likely the most eagerly celebrated holiday in America.
John Adams, in a letter to his wife, spoke of the toil, treasure, and blood that would be required to secure and maintain the independence being declared by the states. He also commented on how future generations should view this decisive action.
Adams wrote, “It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever.”
In gaining deliverance from an increasingly unresponsive, tyrannical government, the people were asserting their innate right to create a legitimate government. This means a government that derives its just powers from the consent of the governed. It means a government whose powers are limited by law through checks, balances and separation of those powers.
Most importantly, it means a government that exists for the purpose of protecting and guaranteeing the inalienable rights of the people.
With these criteria in mind, could someone please tell me, what exactly are we pretending to celebrate this year?
Are we free people living in a free country? Or are we doing our best to avoid a painful truth that is growing more obvious by the day?
Our government currently claims the authority to spy on us, torture us, hold us incommunicado indefinitely; all without due process or evidence. Our president has kill lists of individuals who may be assassinated by drone strike on mere suspicion that they are a threat to national security.
In a free country, does the state use its agencies to punish and intimidate political opponents? Should a free people have to submit to arbitrary searches of their person and their belongings in order to travel?
Why must we pretend that such things aren’t transforming our formerly free country into a police state? It’s as if our parades and pageants have become a tool for blinding us to the reality that freedom is in eclipse.
The holiday oratory deceitfully describes America as though it were the unique land of liberty that once was. Politicians thank the Almighty for conferring the blessings of liberty on a country that no longer enjoys those blessings. The original freedom and security have disappeared, even though the oratory lingers on.
In denial, we pretend that everything is all right because we’re made to feel guilty for criticizing the government. Even worse, we often conflate government with country by forgetting that they are two separate and distinct things. Love of country is consistent with patriotism; love of government carries the reek of nationalism.
Our government likes to constantly remind us that there are worse places to live even as it treats us like potential enemies.
As Joseph Sobran said, “It’s as if an alcoholic, adulterous wife-beater were to keep reminding his wife that she’s fortunate he’s not O.J. Simpson.”
It’s one thing to mindlessly go through the patriotic motions of the Independence Day festivities; but few people are likely to actually ponder what we’re celebrating. It’s sobering how little freedom remains in a nation that, despite increasing evidence to the contrary, stubbornly claims to be the freest on earth.
Albert Einstein summed up the value of freedom when he said, “Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.”
Liberty is a natural right, but freedom can only exist where societies of people voluntarily agree to uphold it. Of course, freedom has many associated duties. But only free people are willing to bear those responsibilities.
In explanation, Oliver DeMille said that “those who stand for freedom must honor the inalienable rights of all, and they must also take responsibility for standing up and helping ensure that society succeeds. No truly free government directs this free and voluntary behavior, but without it freedom decreases.”
This Independence Day, we would be wise to focus on the role that each of us should play in maintaining our freedom. Like John Adams, must be capable of seeing that “the end is more than worth all the means” when it comes to freedom.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.