Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Fourth of July

717317418_a23b2758e0 Over two centuries ago, just a few miles from where I write today, some of the most progressive and enlightened minds of the millennium gathered in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania State House to discuss the future of the British colonies on the continent.  They met in the midst of a conflict between the best trained and equipped army of the day and a band of farmers, merchants and laborers armed with personal weapons and non-traditional tactics.  The goal of this gathering was to support the popular uprising with the legal and philosophical underpinnings of a new government.

On July 4th, the gathering of men named Jefferson, Hancock, Adams, Franklin, Rush and many others from all across the continent declared that everyone living here was now free from the British crown.  They later drafted documents serving as the basis of the world's first modern representative democracy.  A bill of the basic rights of man would follow.

Some say that the United States is the greatest nation in the history of man.  We have certainly done more than our part to advance freedoms, extend human knowledge and increase the station of human kind.  Today however, we are engaged in a war that sullies the work that those men in Philadelphia did and that so many other men and women have improved and extended in the last two and a half centuries. 

Our place as the first and arguably the best does not give us the moral right to impose our will on others.  We have the responsibility to protect ourselves and our future, but we cannot do so by bullying other peoples into submission.  We need both statesmen AND warriors, and warriors need the advise and consent of the statesmen to be morally empowered.

It seems today that we have forgotten the feelings of oppression and occupation that led to our popular uprising against the world's most powerful empire.  Now we impose our will because we can and that makes it right. 

We need to remember one of the basic tenets that went into the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776.  That is that the consent of the governed is what creates a government's legitimacy.  When a government loses that consent it loses its moral ability to utilize power. 

The folks at 1600 Pennsylvania would do well to pause today to read our country's Declaration of Independence and think about where it has all gone wrong.

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