Changing the Course of a Nation - Liberty, Integrity and Prosperity

Bill of Rights Day – 2019

Bill of Rights Day – 2019

12/15/2019 – Paul Venable


228 years ago today, on December 15, 1791, ten of the twelve proposed articles of The Bill of Rights were ratified by three-fourths of the states – and The Bill of Rights became The 10 Commandments, so to speak, for the government of our representative Republic, and the first ten amendments to our Constitution.  A brief history of the Bill of Rights can be found here.

The Founding Fathers envisioned a government which would be adequate for a self-governing people, a people who would vigorously advance our natural rights and just as vigorously respect and defend the same rights of our neighbors.  The Bill of Rights came about because those founders understood human nature, that it seems “the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” It seems that as a result, sometimes, “a patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”

Thomas Jefferson, in his Notes on Virginia said thus,  “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories.

It is up to us as a people to exercise a lively awakening to our responsibility to not just defend, but actively advance the cause of Liberty.  But who will answer that call?  Will you?

First, as Benjamin Franklin said, “We must know the law, and be well disposed to use it!”  Concluding Jefferson’s previous observation, he continues, “…and to render them even safe, their mind must be improved to some degree.”

We need to know the law. But before we go to the law, let’s first consider one other thing.  Quoting from the Declaration of Independence, these words should be very familiar:

“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.”

While there is so much to be gleaned from these immortal words, there is one word we will consider here.  That word is, UNALIENABLE.  While it is commonly pronounced, un – alien – able, let’s address it as it may be pronounced a little differently…  un – a – lien – able.  A lien is something we are all pretty much familiar with, as it is a legal claim that one party can enforce against another until a debt has been paid.  Understand that the rights given you and me by “our Creator” are so inherently tied to our beings that they cannot – be – LIENED, without dire consequences.  Unfortunately, when governments are composed of those who are imperfect, not unlike ourselves, yet who, over time, begin to exercise unrighteous dominion and insulate themselves from the liability that should come with such behaviors, well, the just quoted document offers this as a solution for the people:

“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.”

First, we must know the law.  We must become familiar with our founding documents,

Secondly, we must exercise our knowledge.  If/when our elected leaders step outside the boundaries of securing our natural rights, then we have the obligation to educate them – or the duty to remove them.  We don’t need to wait for regularly scheduled elections to correct errant political servants.  Most jurisdictions inherently have powers of recall or referendum, where either elected officials or laws respectively, can be reconsidered.  Just recently, citizens in Amelia, Ohio exercised this power and disbanded their village government altogetherEarlier in the year, the mayor and city council members of Dalton Gardens, Idaho were challenged by a recall election.

Finally, we must recognize that political solutions to the problems we face will ever be elusive if we are not a self-governing people; if we are willing to support or allow government to do to us or our neighbors, what would be unlawful for us to do ourselves, by trespassing upon life, liberty or property.  Is it possible that we can have a restoration of Liberty in America without a corresponding spiritual revival in America?  To the Massachusetts Militia in 1798, John Adams wrote the following – and maybe it was a prophetic warning:

“Because We have no Government armed with Power capable of contending with human Passions unbridled by … morality and Religion. Avarice, Ambition … Revenge or Galantry, would break the strongest Cords of our Constitution as a Whale goes through a Net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Our Founding Fathers had an implicit vision that might be considered what would be  …a Nation of Kings.  A nation-community of people who could experience the rights only exercised by the kings of centuries past, a type of popular sovereignty that made every man and woman free to enjoy their natural rights, respect and defend the same rights for their neighbors and revere, The King of Kings, from whom those rights are derived.

Will we advance the cause of Liberty?  How we answer this today, will determine what we leave for our children tomorrow.

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