It’s become tradition in this nation to look forward to July 4th, but it seems that in great part the true meaning of the day has to some degree lost its meaning. Oh sure, we have taken to heart John Adams’ desire that we mark the event with “pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations.” We wear our red white and blue, maybe play some patriotic songs on the stereo, then fire up the grill and pop open a beer. We have all too easily forgotten that in his letter to Abigail Adams, before speaking of the “pomp and parade”, John Adams said that July 4th “ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”
This nation was founded by men who believed that their rights — and the rights of all — come to us from God, not from man. These feelings were universal among the Founders, and captured so eloquently by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. God gives us the right to life. God gives us the right to liberty. God gives us the right to pursue happiness, the right to earn and own private property, the right to freely speak our minds, the right to freely worship Him, and the right to defend ourselves and our rights. They understood that Rights are given to us by God the Almighty, and that Man cannot give Rights to another, as Man can only grant privileges.
They understood the truth that these God-given rights, these natural rights, are blessings bestowed upon all of us, and the Founders understood that the rights given by God should not be stripped away by Man without just cause. As such, they believed that the role of Government was to help secure those blessings for all, and for that reason — and for that reason alone — Man forms Government: to protect the individual blessings of Liberty.
They also understood that in the history of Man, the very nature of Man always perverts the true purpose of Government to tyrannical ends. Even today in the United States, as well as in every corner of the globe, our God-given rights are under attack as people try to replace God with Government. By small usurpations, by tiny changes in language, by gently changing history, our God-given Rights are endangered by the very Government our Founders created to ensure the blessings of those Liberties. We are told that we should all work together for the common good, and that Government — rather than God — is the answer to all of our problems. The road to tyranny is paved by Government bricks and mortar.
Our Founders knew that their struggle against the Crown was not the first — nor would be the last — time that Man has faced the evils of a tyrannical Government. Our Founders preached patience and caution. They were even willing to endure some encroachments upon their Rights. But after years of abuse from their Government, after years of increasing taxes, judicial abuse of power, repression of God-given Rights, and ignoring polite requests to restore those God-given Rights to the People, the Founders knew that it was time to do what was their last remaining option.
They had to declare their independence.
Not just independence from England. No, they knew that what they were really declaring was that all men had the Right to freedom from oppression; that all men deserved freedom from tyranny; and that all men deserved independence from any government which dared to threaten their God-given rights.
And to that noble and lofty goal, they pledged to each other their Lives, their Fortunes, and their sacred Honor.
Today we celebrate the 234th birthday of not just the United States, but of our Founding Principles: the Declaration of the Rights of Man.
And as we celebrate these Founding Principles today, let us pause to remember exactly what they are: our Founding Principles were not that we should all work together for the common good, but that each and every one of us are blessed with individual Rights given to us by God. To protect those Rights against a tyrannical Government, today we must all pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor.