Remember singing that as a kid? The first verses from the hymn, “America the Beautiful,” written in the 19th century. Is the song still true? Is America still the land it once was? Still “beautiful?”
Spacious skies? Take a moment and reflect on the simple beauties we take for granted, free for all, rich or poor, to enjoy: the picturesque sunsets in the summer here in Nevada, or on any given morning, walk outside and look at the beautiful azure sky.
How about purple mountains majesties? Look around you: at the powerful ranges pressing right up into the sky; the snow-capped mountains practically right at your doorstep. A 30-minute drive and complete solitude is yours, with the gentle moaning of the wind through the pines being the only sound to greet your ears. No millionaire could purchase, nor could the best painter in the world capture, the simple beauty we see every day.
Amber waves of grain? America feeds not only itself, but the world over. Hunger in the United States is practically nonexistent; in fact our bigger concern is being overweight. The average American eats better than history’s kings. Every possible thing grown is ours, and in abundance. Our markets are overflowing with produce. It costs less today to feed your family than it did your great grandparents, thanks to the great free enterprise system our industrious farmers are able to access.
Brotherhood from sea to shining sea? There is no class or caste system in America. People naturally seek the social circle they feel most comfortable in and all are free to go up or down the economic ladder, depending on the effort, or lack thereof, they put into it. You can be a snobby rich white-collar worker with your nose in the air, or hang out at the local bar and guzzle beers with your blue-collar friends; and a millionaire rocket scientist has the same number of votes in the ballot box as a garbage man.
Has God shed his grace on America? God’s grace is found in the roots of what makes America truly great: the concept of individual liberty. America was founded on the principle of “natural rights.”
“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.”
These bold words from the Declaration of Independence, shown to the world on July 4, 1776, changed the course of history forever. The entire concept of government, which had been that kings, monarchs and legislators (civil and ecclesiastical) were divinely appointed to determine what rights and privileges the people would be granted, was reversed, and the ancient principles of self-government were restored.
The liberty of man was no longer at the mercy of the whims of others, but to his creator, who granted these rights to all, to be exercised as each individual so chose. Once freed from the shackles of history’s endless series of tyrants, man’s creative abilities took off. America is not great because of government’s oversight of our commerce and way of life; on the contrary, America is great because government was restricted to its proper role, and the people were allowed to choose for themselves the course which best led to their “pursuit of happiness.”
That’s the real genius of America: liberty, God’s unalienable right for all mankind. Freedom is something each in America is born with, not granted through man-made law.
This concept is so central to our way of life — and so alien to those individuals who feel they somehow have a right to control the rest of us — that is has become a major political battleground. If God does not exist, then these unalienable rights do not exist either. If there is no God, then from whence does man derive his rights?
Destroy the belief in a Supreme Being, “the Creator” spoken of in the Declaration of Independence, and men again become pawns in the hands of those who “know what’s best for us.” Liberty is no longer an individual gift granted to all, but a privilege to be given — or taken — by the state.
America’s real beauty lies not only in our skies, our majestic mountains, our fertile plains, but in our being the world’s lighthouse for freedom, where all the downtrodden have turned for more than 200 years, where freedom’s bright beam has pierced the blackest fogs of oppression everywhere, and acted as a beacon on a hill for all to see and emulate.
One area of real concern for the future of America and for liberty is this: Americans have allowed their rights to be slowly eroded away. A little here and a little there, and slowly, ever so slowly, the shackles that our forefathers threw off in 1776 are again strangling our freedom. Thomas Jefferson wrote: “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”
The oppressive growth of government is the common enemy. Unless government is restored to its constitutional anchor, and people and their property again freed from oppressive regulation and taxation, eventually the people are forced to retaliate.
The Declaration of Independence states, “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..”
Thomas Jefferson noted, “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that the people preserve the spirit of resistance?”
The grossly misnamed Patriot Act, the locking up and blocking off of huge areas of the public domain, land management agencies usurping police powers with their own kangaroo court systems, spy cameras in the desert, American citizens locked up and denied habeas corpus, unnecessary and highly questionable wars in foreign lands, the taking of private property through eminent domain and then turning it over to private parties, are all reminders that government is gaining at the expense of our precious liberty
Resistance as Americans is essential. As Jefferson wrote, “Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.”
Notice that God, liberty and freedom, are synonymous terms in the lexicon of our founding fathers, and that tyranny and God are opposites. America, with its rich Christian history, has proven them correct. Our duty is to vigilantly preserve and protect our rich heritage and legacy. Even with our flaws, America and all it stands for remains the greatest, freest nation in the history of the world.
Ira Hansen is a lifelong resident of Sparks, owner of Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing and his radio talk show can be heard Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. on 99.1 FM.