In the winter of 1777, Benjamin Rush spoke with John Adams in Baltimore concerning the ongoing Revolutionary War. Adams said, “We shall succeed in our struggle, provided we repent of our sins and forsake them.” He then added, “I will see it out or go to Heaven in its ruins.”
Adams is considered by many to have not been a religious man. However, I would say the above statement disputes that. Progressives, unable to deny the writings of the founders, tend to label many of the founders as “deists,” or those that believe there is a God who created the universe and then just stepped back. The fact that many of these men believed in Providence flies in the face of a deist claim.
Those that follow my columns know I’m a big believer in cause and effect; the examples are nearly endless. I wrote a few weeks ago about the scenario of a man walking across the prairie, randomly striking matches and throwing them in the grass. Rather than stopping the man causing the problem, we focused our efforts putting out the fires while many of them rage on out of control.
As our republic spins out of control, each side fights with the other—even fighting with some on “their side”—all the while ignoring the root cause of the problems. We have a tendency to think our republic was some accident or experiment, so there is no real sense of urgency to correct mistakes. In fact, they do not see their efforts as mistakes but rather an attempt to “fix” a problem.
I’ve used this example before, but it is a classic comparison to help understand the problem we face. For example’s sake, I will assume you are an average person, average weight and health. Over time, you develop some bad habits. You stop for a doughnut on your way to work, you have a Snickers in the afternoon, and you develop a love for ice cream in the evening. On top of this, your work and your children’s activities prevent you from being as physically active as you used to be, leaving you with little spare time to work out or even take the occasional walk.
Your weight begins to climb, your blood pressure goes up as does your blood sugar, and you buy new clothes. You go to the doctor, and he puts you on blood pressure and cholesterol meds, telling you to watch your diet and lifestyle. “What does he know?” you ask yourself. “Let him follow me around and see how busy I am!” But you start the meds and go on with your life. You then notice increasing indigestion, something that has never been an issue. You begin to carry antacids and enjoy the relief they offer. Before long, you notice trouble falling asleep. You need your rest, so another trip to the doctor and ask for something to help and then to the pharmacy to add to your increasing list of meds.
Perhaps you get my point. Over time, subtle changes were made to your lifestyle which in time developed into serious issues. The changes and your body’s response was gradual enough you really did not put the cause and effect together. Your doctor may or may not be able, in the short time he is with you, to properly address the root cause, but you were not open to his suggestions anyway.
Our founders did not wake up one day and decide to make some changes and just “invent” a republic out of thin air. Liberty has a very long history, ending with a nation that launched an unbelievable advance to technology. If you have not read ‘The Five Thousand Year Leap’ please take the time to do so. The ancient Jews begged for a king, they were warned what a king would do to them yet they would not listen. Again, in 11th century Europe, the people begged for a king to give them security. Soon, they learned that trading liberty for security only assured they had neither.
The list of attempts by the people to wrestle power from kings and government was a long one. They fully knew the pitfalls of a democracy, the strengths of a republic and the tyranny of a monarchy or dictatorship. They also understood the tendency of power to corrupt. The 1100 Charter of Liberties, The Magna Carta in 1215, The Law of the Land in 1354, the 1628 Petition of Rights, the Grand Remonstrance of 1641, The English Bill of Rights of 1689, Virginia’s Declaration of Independence in early 1776, and ultimately our Declaration later that year based on Locke's concept of Natural Rights.
Consider this excerpt from a letter written by Benjamin Rush to John Adams in 1789:
“The characters you so much admired among the ancients were formed wholly by republican forms of governments.
Republican forms of government are more calculated to promote Christianity than monarchies. The precepts of the Gospel and the maxims of republics in many instances agree with each other.
Please to take notice that when I speak of a republic I mean a government consisting of three branches, and each derived at different times and for different periods from the people. Where this circulation is wanting between rulers and the ruled, there will be an obstruction to genuine government. A king or a Senate not chosen by the people at certain periods becomes a bubo or an abscess in the body politic which must sooner or later destroy the healthiest state.
A simple democracy, or an unbalanced Republic, is one of the greatest of evils. I think with Dr. Zubly that "a democracy (with only one branch) is the Devil's own government." Those words he uttered at my table in the spring of 1776, upon my giving as a toast the "Commonwealth of America." At the same instant that he spoke the words, he turned his glass upside downwards and refused to drink the toast.”
As a nation, we have been as the man in the example above. We, as individuals making up the nation, have gradually left the safe and healthy things of life and evolved into an obese, disease-ridden individual searching for a doctor (president or another politician) to give us a magic potion that will solve all our problems. In so doing, we constantly make our situation worse. In reality, we are the only ones who can fix the problem.
In the coming weeks, I intend to point out some of the areas and specific ways we have let ourselves down. If we are not willing to “do what it takes” to correct our own lives and choices, we are doomed to fail just as those nations before us.
Photo credit via Flickr