Think about founders while celebrating Fourth of July
June 30, 2010 | 07:28 AM
July 4, 1776, is America's birthday. Since the time when the 13 colonies united as one and broke away from the grip of Great Britain, every Fourth of July is a celebration of freedom and liberty in the greatest country ever created.
The Declaration of Independence is the ultimate symbol of those very freedoms we all hold dear. That document still is quoted today.
It is talked about and portions of it are memorized in grade schools across the country. It still has meaning, more than 230 years after it was written.
In recent months, I have rediscovered an interest in history, specifically that of our brilliant Founding Fathers.
In the second paragraph, the most well-known portion of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson cites some of the most important words ever documented.
"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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
To our Founding Fathers freedom was worth fighting for. Blood and tears were shed and lives were lost in war. It was not an idea taken lightly or for granted the way it is now by so many.
Jefferson wrote that governments receive their powers from the approval of the governed. When we, as the governed, disagree with what is going on, we vote someone else or other ideas into power. We also can inform ourselves and become involved in the decision-making processes.
Jefferson and our other Founding Fathers knew what could happen to our Republic if we didn't respect freedom and keep an eye on our government. And their words prove that.
As the government Jefferson wrote about carefully so long ago now infringes more in our daily lives, one must wonder what he would have thought about our leaders of today. He couldn't possibly know how complicated life would become and what could happen to the country and world more than 230 years later.
But, he understood people and their motives and what could happen to a Republic when power and elitism gain control over the people.
Specifically, he knew what could happen if government became too large and powerful.
Jefferson said, "Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have. The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases."
He said, "I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive."
Jefferson also said, "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."
Fourth of July should be a time to celebrate America's birthday. That means it's also a time to think about where we've been and where we are headed as a Republic. It also is a time to think about the freedoms we have as individuals in this country, our capitalistic roots and what could happen to those in the future if government continues on its current path.
Jefferson's quotes about government and the Declaration of Independence are breathtaking in these times. It's as if he and his fellow Founding Fathers knew exactly what would happen in the future.
And we are living that future right now.
It is time this Fourth of July to think about Jefferson and his fellow Founding Fathers. What would they say or think about our current path as a country?
It is only by seeking and understanding their words and wisdom that America can become united and great again.
Seiser is the editor of the