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Independence Day reminds of nation’s founding principles

As we approach another Independence Day, we’re reminded of the words of this country’s first president, George Washington: “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is power. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearsome master.”

Yet only the most radical of us would argue that government isn’t necessary. The Bible itself tells Christians to pay taxes and pray for government leaders.

On Saturday, we will celebrate the 244th anniversary of this nation’s Declaration of Independence – the prelude to the establishment of our government. While all of us can find fault with certain government leaders and policies, few of us would trade our system for any other in the world.
Independence Day is a good time to reflect upon and rededicate ourselves to the principles upon which this nation and our government were founded.
When our forefathers severed ties with England in 1776, it was a declaration of war for which the signers paid dearly. They enunciated this inspiring principle, the words of which are as true today as they were then:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable 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, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

And so it was that the world’s first democratic republic came into being and thus inspired freedom-loving people the world over.
For more than two centuries, the United States has been an example of freedom, self-government and justice, despite our flaws, some of which have been laid bare in recent months. Yet, if they were around to assess their creation, this experiment in self-government probably has succeeded far beyond the wildest expectations of our nation’s founders.
This great land of ours can remain free only so long as we Americans steadfastly uphold the principles enunciated by those founders 244 years ago. It is far easier today, because we now have a tradition of freedom that then was only a dream.

But let us not be complacent. We must remain vigilant against the forces of oppression and intolerance. We must not stop striving to become a better version of ourselves. Freedom must be exercised and defended by those who enjoy it.