I remember seeing a music video once where, as the song starts, it pans to a scene where one of the guys holds up his U.S. passport and says, “As long as I have this … it really doesn’t matter.”
Meaning—his U.S. passport was his most important possession.
That idea was running through my mind as a friend shared some devastating news with his listeners. His name is Jonathan Dunne, and he’s been working for years to educate Americans about our unlikely history, the tenants that made us great, and ultimately— how to protect that gift.
Amazingly, he’s not American. He’s Irish, and becoming an American has been his dream for over 20 years.
This year—with a job offer in hand—he was just some paperwork away from achieving it.
Without getting into the minutia of immigration law, it boils down to this: he doesn’t meet the qualifications for any work visa. And with that, Dunne’s dream died. Through tears, he begged his listeners not to suggest he come here illegally, because “I’d never, ever ever disrespect the country I love so much.”
What a concept. And what love of a country that’s not even his—and may never be.
I can’t help but think about this as we just celebrated another year of independence. Do we get how blessed we are?
Let me ask that again.
Do we get it?
Do we understand what a precious gift we hold? Do you understand how blessed we are to have been born here, invited in, allowed to stay here (despite some of you having broken the law to do so)? Do we understand that we—rich and poor, powerful and lowly—are the possessors of one of the greatest inheritances ever bestowed on mankind?
There’s a reason John Winthrop and later Ronald Reagan called this country a “shining city on a hill.”
We were something different in the world.
“Were,” because we’re straying from that (as we’ll discuss in a moment); and “different,” because this nation’s Founders did something unlike anything that had been done before.
A few months back, I wrote that what they did was buck the entire system the world had, by and large, followed for millennia. It was the idea that government (and whoever ran it) was the ultimate power. Rights came from that leader’s government, and everybody else could just deal. It also usually meant tons of intrigue and bloodshed and death by people who wanted to topple those leaders—not necessarily to change the government approach, but to in fact sit on the top themselves.
Instead, our Founders believed that our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness came from our Creator, not man—which meant that those rights were non-negotiable. It means your life is yours, you’ve got a freedom to live as you please (so long as you hurt no one), and you’ve got a right to your possessions.
This idea started flickering in “modern” history hundreds and hundreds of years before the Founders lived, at the signing of the Magna Carta (which boldly declared that even the king was subject to the law, among other revolutionary ideals). But it would take hundreds of years before people would effectively take these kinds of ideas and turn them into the premise for a new country. Other nations (especially in the Western world) later emulated parts of what we did, but largely retained the concepts of an all-powerful government.
I know, I know—you’re dozing off. So here’s the gist of it: we are so blessed because America is so different.
And as we celebrate our nation’s birthday once again, I want you to realize that we don’t always take the time to appreciate what we here. And how we are—by turning away from these ideas in exchange for what we think makes us feel good—throwing that away that heritage.
We’re throwing it away when we celebrate people who come here illegally while turning away the Jonathan Dunnes of the world who ask permission to come in the front door. That, simply put, destroys the rule of law.
We’re throwing it away when we celebrate government involvement in things like providing healthcare (yes, I’m talking to you repeal and replace Republicans). That gives the government immense power over our most precious gift: our lives. Look no further than the awful case of Charlie Gard, a sick infant whose fate was decided by a collective European court which decided it is better him to be taken off life support in a U.K. hospital than to allow his parents save his life.
We’re throwing it away when we celebrate collectivism over the individual. One of the MAIN things that set us apart from the rest of the world was the idea that each person has value. (Yes, even Thomas Jefferson and others realized the disparity between this belief and the practice of slavery.) And yet today, we tear down individualism by making it nearly impossible to do anything without the government. With prophet-like accuracy, 19th-century French observer of the American experiment Alexis de Tocqueville wrote: “It is easy to foresee that the time is drawing near when man will be less and less able to produce, by himself alone, the commonest necessaries of life. The task of the governing power will therefore perpetually increase, and its very efforts will extend it every day.”
Government is not a terrible idea. (It simply has a great tendency towards terribleness.) We need order, which we get through laws, which we enforce through government. And yes, from time to time people genuinely need aid from the government. It just so happens we’ve gone too far because we’ve sold individualism down the river in exchange for a collectivist system that provides all things, cradle to grave. Just remember, nothing is free. There’s a cost to everything—and when the government takes a majority of what you make, it owns you.
We are quickly becoming exactly what so many people come here trying to escape.
So we close out another year of July 4th celebrations, just remember what you have, how blessed you are to have it … and most importantly, that its fate rests in your hands.
Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com (a political commentary blog), and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show (TheBlaze Radio Network, M-F, 3-5. ET). She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree