Dr. Bill Atwood

Sweet Freedom

Happy Birthday America. Back in 1776 a small but well-educated group of Englishmen gathered in humid Philadelphia and started to discuss their fate against a government that over-taxed them, over-regulated them, used the courts against them, controlled commerce and trade, and who also ignored the will of the people. These once loyal subjects were now at the tipping point of just what to do. Petitions to the government went ignored, and their rights were being taken away one by one.

These men had all grown up loving their nation and its traditions. They understood the value of law and order and they knew under that system a man could prosper and gain wealth if he was willing to study and apply himself. However; things had begun to change for these men and their neighbors and the government, having grown bloated and out of touch, ignored the changing times and attitudes.

When Guttenberg invented the printing press it changed the world because it allowed for the mass distribution of information to the common man at a very low price. Booklets and articles could be reproduced and sent from town to town. Newspapers sprang up and within their pages were editorials expressing opinions that weren’t always what the government believed.

When the government chose to challenge the existence of these printed words they used the weapon of money. The government taxed paper and made it so expensive that many of the booklets and newspapers were not able to continue. When people carried out protests the government sent in troops to squash the rebellions. When people expressed angst against the King or Parliament they found themselves at the end of a noose.

In the 240 years since the Continental Congress declared their Independence from the King and the rest of Great Britain much has happened. Our country has flourished and many other nations have looked to the words of young Thomas Jefferson contained in our nation’s birth certificate; The Declaration of Independence.

Just a few days ago English subjects claimed their independence from the EU. The folks who voted to exit the EU did so for much the same reason their American counterparts did 87,648 days earlier. Those British subjects want to cast off the control by others and retain their own sovereignty. The Scots and the Irish are now thinking about departing the United Kingdom because they want to remain in the EU and if that works for them, so be it. That is the beauty of being independent. We are free to live as we choose to live.

Many here don’t see America in the way that the founders envisioned. They want a strong federal government and they desire the government to give them everything they need. Others here want limited government as the founders envisioned and they simply want everyone to have the opportunity to pursue their dreams and goals.

America is fairly divided if the polls are correct and the scales may be tipping. As we approach this July 4th we need to remind ourselves of what it is that makes this country so exceptional.

We need to rejoice that it was those men in humid Philadelphia who changed the way people thought about the rights of humans. Those men cast out the concept that all Rights come from the government but that each person had Rights given to them by God. Those men stated that all men were created equal and they rejected the Divine Right of Kings ideology. They believed in certain inalienable Rights and they were willing to sign their names to a document stating their beliefs. When they signed that Declaration they were denouncing their King, and as such committing treason. Treason was punishable by death. Many of those Founding Fathers suffered losses because of their action that humid day in Philadelphia.

History has a strange way of repeating itself. The British a few days ago sent shockwaves around the world about casting off the influence of an overreaching governing power. The Patriots in 1776 sent shockwaves around the globe with their actions and the first bullet fired at Lexington was the “shot heard ‘round the world.”

Years ago it was said that the majority of the people were silent. However many of the people considered to be silent were stating, “The majority isn’t silent; the government is deaf.”

I love the irony of a few days before we celebrate our freedom from the tyranny of an English King a majority of British subjects are declaring their independence from an overreaching government.

So on Monday let’s celebrate our nation’s birth and greatness as the shining hope for freedom-loving people around the world.