Monday, July 4, 2016
Happy Birthday USA!
Today marks the 240th Anniversary of the founders signing the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia.
The world is vastly different than it was in the City of Brotherly Love on that hot Summer week in 1776. And yet in many ways it is very much the same.
Different when it comes to conveniences, technology, and dissemination of information. 18th century communication relied on handwritten documents, rudimentary printing operations, and mail delivered domestically by foot and horseback, and internationally by sailing ships. Today it is electronic, cellular, and satellite assisted. News spread by word of mouth, then and by heralds in the public square. Now we have 24 hour news cycles, with events happening 12 time zones away being piped into our living rooms in real time. Most of us carry small hand held communication and information devices that were not even dreamed of in those days.
Yep. Different world.
And yet the same in so many ways.
People still long to be free. Free to control their own destinies and to enjoy the inalienable God given rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We detest tyranny and will only take so much until we rise up and overthrow the grip of tyrannical governments. We are willing to pay reasonable taxes and share mutual responsibility, but will not bear unreasonable burdens. We desire a government that is open to and responsible to the voice of the people. The Declaration of such to King George signaled the beginning of the "great experiment" that soon brought about the necessity of citizen soldiers to bear arms against the invading armies and Navy of our mother country. Farmers, craftsmen and business men, alike, put to risk their lives, property, and personal fortunes, to create a sovereign nation from 13 loosely connected colonies stretching north to south along the Atlantic coast of the great North American wilderness.
Eventually our new leaders forged a Constitution, a founding document designed to "provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare, and to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity". Our Republic was formed. Consequently added amendments, allowed for ideas not addressed in the founding document. Clarifying and codifying such rights as freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to peaceably assemble, the right to keep and bear arms. Over the next two centuries other amendments were added as needed to clarify the freedoms and responsibilities shared by our population.
Our nation expanded in size, moving westward through the bravery of explorers and settlers. Our borders expanded with the Louisiana Purchase and the Doctrine of Manifest Destiny that led us to possess outlying territories reaching all the way to the Pacific Coastline.
American history is fascinating. It is ripe with stories of bravery, heroism and greatness. We have been called upon to send our sons and daughters into harms way to protect our own homeland, and to fight for freedom for enslaved persons in nations around the world. Our history also contains shameful chapters such as slavery, a Civil War in which 600,000 Americans died, literally at the hands of their brothers. There has long been the ugly spectre of bigotry and racial segregation, Even now the current American Holocaust continues, in which the innocent lives of more than 4,000 unborn Americans are snuffed out every day inside what should be the safest place on the planet - their mother's womb.
Alexis de Toqueville once wrote "America is great because America is good. When America ceases to be good, it will cease to be great."
I believe that God has graciously blessed the United States of America down through the years, but we have fallen far from where we once stood for general morality, and an inherent desire to follow the principles taught in what we call the Judeo/Christian ethic. I don't labor under the delusion that America was ever a "Christian nation", but I do know that we were founded with a reverence for, and a desire to follow the ancient teachings of the Bible.
Those days are gone. It is no wonder that America is no longer great.
I pray that there will be a resurgence of that spirit in our nation, but alas, as a nation we have generally forgotten God. I believe we are living in a post Christian culture here, and apart from a mighty movement of God, our nation will likely never return to those original parameters of belief, and to the principals laid out in our founding documents.
My ultimate citizenship is not of this country, nor even of this planet. By Grace, I am a citizen of God's Kingdom. During this life I have been blessed to have been born and have lived in the greatest country on Earth. One day I am moving to my eternal home. Until then, I am praying for my temporary home, the United States of America, to return to the lofty goals that were signed onto by our founders 240 years ago.
My prayer could be expressed in the words of Irving Berlin:
"God Bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her,
Through the night, with a light from above.
From the mountains to the prairie
To the oceans, white with foam.
God bless America. My Home, sweet home."
Happy Birthday U.S.A.