This Saturday is Independence Day. And while most of us will be enjoying time around a BBQ, watching a baseball game, or at the beach, many will end the day watching a firework display. Most of this comes with little thought of what and why we are celebrating.
This year is the first year of my life that I can remember hearing some leaders in our culture state that we should not be celebrating the 4th of July, that our national flag is a symbol of oppression and should be eliminated. They say there is nothing special about America and that American Exceptionalism does not exist.
But American Exceptionalism does not mean that we are better than other people in the world. Exceptional can be found throughout the world. To understand American Exceptionalism, one must first look at the governments and rulers since the beginning of time. History is filled with leaders who are tyrants, oppressing people who struggle to free themselves. The majority of history and the current world status is marked with this battle.
Then, a country appears on the scene with a different basis for its government. It is not based upon might, lineage, or privilege. It is based upon individual liberty. This country’s Declaration of Independence states that, “all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The founding fathers realize that people are naturally wired this way and the most successful government will not be one that imposes its iron will upon people but will be one that bows to the will of the people.
So our founders set up a system that makes the government ultimately subject to the people. Boundaries are set as to what rights must be preserved for the individual and what actions the government can take. They set up a culture that allows for opportunity for people to improve their lives for those who come here and who are willing to work hard. Because of how we were founded, America becomes the land of opportunity and many seek to come and begin a life here. (Think about that. What other country do you know that has been called a “land of opportunity”?)
The USA is not exceptional because it is perfect. We have made mistakes since our founding and at times seem to lose our way. Our country is exceptional because of its founding and basis.
Tyrants are people who can only obtain a following by force and not win in the free market of ideas. Tyrants from outside our country have fought against this country and how it was founded. Some tyrants from the inside attempt to force their will upon the people. But whether outside or inside, tyrants do not rest, and will always need to be opposed in order to protect liberty and freedom.
So this Independence Day, spend some time reflecting upon our country and its founding. Take some time to read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Realize what we need to do to continue to celebrate the 4th of July.