The smell of burnt gunpowder probably hangs in the air following our Fourth of July celebration. Really, though, that is a misnomer. The Fourth of July is like any other day. Why the parades, the flags, the fireworks, the hopefully unfettered show of patriotism? It is Independence Day we celebrate, the day we remember the brave founders of the American experiment, men and women with a noble vision of a country of, by, and for the people. They envisioned a country not ruled by a king, dictator, or emperor, but a person elected to serve for a particular time to execute the laws legislated by a congress and judged in keeping with the founding documents by a judiciary. This American experiment was one unlike any other, and after 242 year, we stand, though perhaps not as strong.
If we ask now what kind of freedom we fight for, too many might answer the right to self-determination, but defined as to do what I want, right or wrong, properly licentiousness. My needs and desires always supersede the other. If I cannot have those needs met thorough my own agency, then the government must intervene. But that is not the vision of our founders. See, the freedom they envisioned was a liberty - the freedom to choose the right and reject the wrong. It was a freedom of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But its basis is truth. They understood that neither these rights nor truth itself were a function of popular vote or granted them by a benevolent ruler, but by God. While they may have a theistic understanding of God as a distant creator, they still acted and believed that these rights were deeply engrained in the human person and that truth is knowable. That is why these rights are inalienable - they are not able to be taken away. This notion of truth and liberty is profoundly Christian, based on the Judeo-Christian history, but all peoples can have access to it. That is why countless people have flocked to our shores and continue to do so. They want a share in freedom, to live the truth.
As a country and people this Independence Day, I hope that we can acknowledge the American dream is alive, and yet unrealized among so many. Let us defend the defenseless and downtrodden who come to our ports of entry eager to follow the dream. But at the same time, find humane ways of securing our borders to limit child and sexual trafficking and those looking to expand criminal empires. Let us pray for those who govern, no matter party affiliation, that they may be filled with wisdom to work for the good of all Americans and allow this country to be a bold beacon of truth and liberty to the whole world. Let us be a people seeking truth, working for justice, and defending life, liberty, and the pursuit of eternal happiness.