Independence Day

Though I am a veteran, I must remind my friends who post social media memes thanking us that Independence Day isn’t about remembering veterans, or the military, or those who died in combat. We have other days for those groups.  Rather, Independence Day is about remembering the ideals for which they fought. It’s about celebrating freedom–freedom that is rooted in “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” and the affirmation 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.”

These rights, spelled out in the first ten amendments to the US Constitution, include the freedom  to believe in God according to the dictates of conscience, and the freedom to exercise that faith,  the freedom to speak what you believe, to publish it in a free press (which also has freedom to question the government and leaders of it), the freedom to peaceably assemble and to make demands of the government,  the right to bear arms, and to be secure in your home and in your person without unwarranted search or seizure; the right to trial by jury, and to know the accusations against you, and to be able to confront accusers in open court;  the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishments.

Looking over that list, I feel a mix of sadness, fear, and despair. How many of these rights has the Republican party taken from us out of fear of immigrants, or those of other faiths, or in the name of “national security”? How many of these rights has the Democratic party taken from us in the name of “choice,” in the name of “social justice”?  The years since 9-11 have witnessed a steady erosion of fundamental rights, and the creation of “rights” the founders (and our own grandparents) could never have imagined.

We have a nation today that is seemingly in favor of torturing our enemies, and declaring them to be such through secret processes, and detaining them without trial, while also redefining marriage and the nature of human sexuality, eliminating most restrictions on abortion, while also saying people cannot exercise their conscience if they are pharmacists, or bakers, or innkeepers, or civil servants.

As I look to the future, I tremble.  We have two most dreadful candidates soon to be nominated by their parties. They will likely continue the paths of their parties in eroding liberty and creating new “rights” for some that restrict the basic rights guaranteed throughout our history.  And I must ask, how many more rights will be lost in a Trump presidency? A Clinton presidency? How will any civil discourse be possible when dissenting ideas are shouted down by mobs of the Left or the Right? I fear the Right, especially in the South, which would impose a particular religious orthodoxy.  I fear the Left, especially on the coasts, which would impose a stifling political correctness.

We are losing our identity. We’re creating a society that the signers of the Declaration would not have recognized.  We are in danger of losing both our freedoms, as well as the  acknowledgment of God and his laws and his creative act that our fathers saw as freedom’s foundation.  Man–excuse me, person, is but a product and tool of the state, of rootless human legislation, subject no longer to legislation by elected representatives, but to decrees by unelected judges who can create new rights and laws by fiat.  The founding fathers would have called that tyranny.