Independence Day can be a challenging time of year for those who understand and fight for our nation’s first principles. There’s a sense of joy in the celebration of our nation’s founding, but each year you get the sense that more and more Americans are becoming disconnected from what the Declaration means and what America means.
It seems that as years pass, more and more Americans are abandoning that which made America a nation. Ideas such as freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, and the right to keep and bear arms are on the chopping block as some seem willing to toss away liberty in exchange for a socialist utopia or authoritarian strongmen.
Politicians, at all levels, embrace the trappings of the Fourth of July weekend. At the same time many of them spend every moment in office trying to undermine those principles on which the nation was founded, as well as, the very Constitution they’ve sworn before Almighty God to defend. These efforts to undermine America are encouraged by people who enjoy the blessings of liberty in a state of total ignorance about where that liberty came from.
The loss of understanding of our country’s founding ideas is tragic, and it strikes at the core of our nation’s identity. Most other nations of the world are not founded on ideas, but a shared heritage of blood and/or shared sectarian ties. America, on the other hand, was founded on core principles and when you eliminate those core principles, the very glue that holds us together as a nation dissolves.
What can citizens do in the face of the decline of our nation and the corruption of its principles? Some quoting Psalm 11:3 ask, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
Those who quote this Psalm (and I’ve been among them) have actually taken it out of its context. When you study the Psalm, you see that David begins the Psalm by saying: “In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, Flee like a bird to your mountain… if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Read carefully, only verse 3 states the discouragement David received. The rest of the psalm is David’s response that expresses confidence in God:
The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord’s throne is in heaven;
his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
Like David, we must maintain our confidence in God, even while the foundations that generations past have relied upon are shaken to their very core. We must also keep alive the spirit of America in the same way that the spirit of so many nations has been preserved-we must keep those stories in our heart. We must learn and share the story of how people fought for and won liberty, and then enjoyed its blessings if only for a time.
We should read books like Peter Marshall and David Manuel’s history of early America in The Light and the Glory, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Sounding Forth the Trump. We should read Our Sacred Honor, a collection of the Founding Father’s thoughts on wide variety of virtues as well as George Grant’s An American Patriot’s Handbook which includes key speeches and sayings from American history, or Rick Santorum’s American Patriots which collects stories of every day heroes of the American Revolution.
We should watch movies like Mel Gibson’s The Patriot and PBS’ documentary series Liberty: The American Revolution. We should listen to programs from the golden age of radio. Shows like The Cavalcade of America or Inheritance reflect a time when the entertainment industry felt a responsibility to pass on America’s heritage of liberty rather than deconstructing and undermining it. We should listen to songs from America’s past that stir us and make us weep.
We must learn the story of liberty and pass it on. There may be dark years ahead for our country, but let us trust that no matter what happens God is in control. Carry the light of liberty and its memory, and pass it on in hopes that one day (whether in our lifetime or not) the flame may be relit.