America was quite properly described many years ago as the “great experiment” by a visitor from a foreign shore. It was a very accurate descriptive for those of us familiar with the founding of this nation, the reason for it coming into being and the concern to ensure that this great experiment would correct the ills experienced under the former English Crown from whom we had broken away.
The young patriot zealots, who came to be called The Founding Fathers, bore names like Washington, Hamilton, Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Madison and on and on. All contributed in many ways to forming the foundation of this constitutional republic. Not always agreeing, but always with one goal in view. Unity.
That goal I think was aptly and with great subtlety stated by George Washington in one paragraph of his Letter of Transmittal of the original Constitution to congress in 1787. This was how he phrased it:
“It is obviously impractical in the federal government of these states, to secure all the rights of independent sovereignity to each, and yet provide for the interest and safety of all: Individuals entering into society, must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest. The magnitude of this sacrifice must depend as well on situation and circumstances, as on the object to be obtained. It is at all times difficult to draw with precision the line between those rights which must be surrendered, and those which may be reserved; and on the present occasion this difficulty was encreased by a difference among the several states as to their situation, extent, habits, and particular interests.”
That it should come to pass that individuals would have to relinquish personal rights for the greater good of the society as a whole. That as such was not stated with directed specificity, but repeatedly acknowledged in every thought being conveyed. In that careful enunciation of a principle the original intent was conveyed, but with a flexibility of how to interpret and apply such. For me THAT characteristic of certainty of original intent yet flexibility is an introduction to attitude conveyed to future generations in interpretation and application of the Constitution itself, one of our cornerstone documents that support and make up the root mass of the Tree of Liberty. Bulwarked by foundational support of the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments to that Constitution along with the Gettysburg address and Declaration of Independence that anchoring root mass eventually came to be. I would submit that no nation on earth has quite the history that these foundational documents bear witness to. They chart the early course for a fledgling great experiment cast upon the pantheon of time. And we…, we all are the runners and bearers of the torch announcing such to the next and future generation.
Our late President Reagan is oft given credit for a reference to America as a shining city upon a hill. However, few realize the original thought and reference comes from this quote…”You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works …”. This traces back to a much earlier leader. His name was Jesus and this comes from the Sermon on The Mount found in Matthew 5:14-16 and ends with “…and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.”
This great experiment has come upon difficult times. Not because of a failure of our foundation, but due to a malaise of indifferent ignorance and corruption of personal values of responsibility for many of it’s citizenry. She is beset with challenges from without, which can be surmounted as they always have. What she cannot survive long is the threat from within that seeks to create a house divided upon itself. We now find ourselves deeply and diametrically polarized in this country, but no matter the cost, WE of traditional values respect must hold true to the founders original concepts. WE must dedicate ourselves to the rule of law to excise this elemental threat. Those concepts were true and right for all times. They were not mere ideas subject to the whim of political change. They were the individual lights of principles for that shining city on the hill and all need to be maintained to preserve the very integrity of this great experiment.
WE have a manifest destiny to continue the journey of this great experiment, so that in our travels the record of history will set the guidance for the path for other nations to consider following us.
Great nations lead as great men do, by example.