The “American Experiment”, as it was called early on, is barely over 230 years old. While it quickly became a huge success, its ultimate fate seems darkly in question of late. But, what was that experiment? Many today don’t realize how significant the founding of our country… or, more correctly, the PRINCIPLES of the founding of our country, were.
Up until the creation of our great nation, man had ALWAYS been subservient to other men. MANY were slaves to others. MOST were subjects of some ruler, be he king or tyrant. Throughout history, power was held by few and the masses were beneath them.
Think about that. If man has a history of 5,000 years and the average age of a person (or “generation”) was only, say, 25 years… that means there have been about 200 generations of man in that entire time. Doesn’t seem like much, does it? And during all that time, most men were dominated by a mere handful of others. “Rights” were decided by decree of a king, “rights” were whatever a master decided. “Rights”, as we know them today, did not exist. That’s just the way it was and those at the bottom could do precious little about it.
The founding of the United States brought into existence a totally “new” idea… new for a government. Not new in the teachings of Christianity, but new to the way countries were formed and managed. Like it or not, it was from those Christian beliefs that the most powerful fundamental principles of our country and Constitution were derived:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
So, is it our government that declares us all equal? No. That would be the same as a KING declaring us all equal (though, obviously, some “more equal” than others since there would be, in fact, a king). EQUALITY was given to us by God, by our Creator. Whether that equality is recognized by our fellow man is a different story, but we are all equal in God’s eyes.
Furthermore, government does not grant power to the people… it’s the other way around. WE, the people, grant certain powers to the government and retain all other powers for ourselves.
Even in just these two basic principles, the “American Experiment” distinguishes itself greatly from every other nation formed prior to it. We REJECT the ideas that one man is better than another or that we answer to a ruler or government… we EMBRACE the fact that we are all equal and WE are superior to our government. THAT was entirely new… something the world had not seen before.
It took almost 200 generations of mankind before this happened. Wow! And the U.S.A. has only been in existence for the last 9 of them.
In the past generation, it seems many citizens of the U.S. have shifted their perspective… and not for the better. When we take freedom for granted, it’s easy to become complacent and trust that all will continue as it was. But, there is a very real risk when government is left unchecked… it seems to be a natural inclination for some people to grab for power, to seek control over others, to take away choices that rightfully belong to each of us and to dictate to us instead. This begins in a subtle, creeping manner but, after a while, can become quite stifling.
I believe we are moving in a bad direction… where power is being concentrated into the hands of few via a federal government that seeks to control aspects of our lives that they Constitutionally have no right to be involved in. Worse, many people seem to think that it’s OK for government to “take care” of us… some people even think that’s what government is supposed to do! I guess those people would have loved being slaves and depending on their masters to take care of them.
If the American Experiment is to survive, it will require a return of our collective mindset to the idea that our government is not here to do things for us… but to enable us to do things for ourselves.