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Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Fearsome People

Over the last few years, I have read more and more about the Founding Fathers, their generation, their thinking, and the background and thinkers and history behind their thinking.

 It is simply amazing how many remarkable men were there at the time of our founding. Franklin, Washington, Adams, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, Henry--and many others, others unknown to most people because they haven't read more than the most basic information about the period. Men, if not of genius, certainly educated, experienced, and thoughtful, and some no doubt were men of genius, the sort of men that God does not grace the earth with as often, perhaps, as we would like.

 They did their best to ensure liberty, freedom from oppressive governments--either foreign or domestic--by setting up the compact, the union of free, independent, and sovereign states known as the United States. They set up a federal government that was limited in its powers and objectives, and sought to reign in any innate tendencies toward expansion by division of powers--not merely between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government, as is commonly taught, but between the federal government and the states and the people.

 And yet the history of our federal government, with its history of inexorable expansion of power, yet convinces me of one thing: that no matter how a government is structured, no matter how its power is divided and difficult to consolidate, it will grow in scope and power unless the people who it is supposed to serve--it is the government that is supposed to serve the people, remember, not the other way 'round--are educated, alert, jealous of their independence and liberty, and entirely too fearsome for any government to run roughshod over.

 If I have a fear for my country, it is that too many of its citizens are too willing to relinquish the God-given rights our government is supposed to protect, that too many people think they can purchase security at the price of a little more liberty, that too many people have neither the will nor the hardness nor the skill to inspire fear in would-be oppressors. I wish--wish most profoundly--that from top to bottom, from youngest to oldest, we were yet a people so fearsome as to make tyrants tremble. I wonder if such ferocity can yet be cultivated here. I hope so.

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