Thursday, November 24, 2011
America, The "Good Spot of Ground" (Jacob 5:43)
On the eve of July 4th, eighteen months ago, I wrote a post entitled "Pilgrims, Patriots and Prophets." It went on to become one of the most popular posts on this page. The back story of the celebration of Thanksgiving is outlined here in another recent post, and both are linked to the freedoms we enjoy in this great country of America.
I am routinely assailed from all sides with predictions of the demise of America, or America in decline, or the end of America as we know it. To the critics and the naysayers I say, "Phooey." Become an optimist. Choose to believe that America was, still is, and will yet prove to be unstoppable. America is an idea whose time has come once again to renew and rise from the dire predictions. She may be chastened for a season, but if she will remember her underpinnings and keep God enthroned as the Sovereign, she will never fail.
We are divided now as a nation, much as we were when Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the Civil War in 1863, issued his proclamation with these pleading words, ". . . to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to our beneficent Father, who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him that, for such singular deliverances and blessings; they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union."
George Washington, in 1789, offered his own Thanksgiving Day proclamation. When you read his and Lincoln's words, they leave no doubt these men were devout in their belief in Almighty God.
So today on Thanksgiving 2011, how are things with us, America? I say they are never better, and most certainly better than they were in 1863 by contrast. We just need to be reminded that the lessons learned from the failed collectivist experiment in Jamestown still have merit and are worth remembering when our federal government threatens to become the tyrannical oppressor like the English throne once was in the seventeenth century. We learned lessons early in our history about the need for individual enterprise, self-reliance and personal exertion. Those skills were once honed and enthroned as the means for survival as the colonists carved an existence out of the forests of a continent with nothing but promise and unlimited opportunity as far as the eyes could see. Increased productivity after the near collapse of Jamestown was the result of giving every man a plot of ground (individual property ownership) coupled with the freedom to grow his own crops and work the land his way.
The Plymouth Plantation, once individuals were enthroned rather the collective, became the model for the future destiny of America.
However successful that model was for two hundred years, during the past hundred years or so of American history we have seen the very vocal minority of Americans rise up. They have railed against the American tradition of individual enterprise. The reason? Free enterprise, they say, has not provided an equally successful outcome for everyone. It is as if the statement in our founding documents that "all men are created equal" must also guarantee or ensure an equal outcome for all. This vocal minority has defied the American tradition. They will tell you wealth inequality is not the desired outcome from a free society. They would have us return to a communal experiment like Jamestown.
When we cross the threshold of a belief that wealth belongs to the government to be distributed by benevolent dictators to ensure an equal outcome, we have then reversed course. That is not the American experiment at all. It is a return to the failed policies of the past. We can never assume that anyone in government, even a benevolent dictator, has the requisite wisdom to redistribute wealth. No one is that wise, especially when they are dealing with the wealth others have earned through their own diligence and persistence.
When we cede our American heritage to that vocal minority, we have ceased to live in the American way. The argument was framed long ago, even before the foundation of this earth was laid in the pre-mortal world. Christ acknowledged there would be risk if moral agency were granted to all. Some would abuse their agency. Some would fail. Success could not be assured for everyone. Satan's appeal was attractive -- an equal outcome for all was on the table for a vote. All in favor? One-third put up their hands for Satan, and were cast out. The rest of us put up our hands to sustain the Father and the Son. Jesus Christ would become the Redeemer for all who would voluntarily come unto Him. There was to be no compulsion, no assurances of exaltation. It would be risky and it would require individual exertion and faithful obedience to the covenants of the gospel.
In America we believe in the sovereignty of the individual and private property rights under the Sovereign the founders consistently referred to as "Divine Providence." Though we are perilously close to it in 2011, we as a people, free Americans, have never yet adopted an idea that crowns the sovereignty of the collective. Since the dawn of Earth's organization we have upheld the individual. We have accepted the risk of failure. Until recent years in a desperate attempt to preserve the status quo, as a country we have never said, "They are too big to fail." We traditionally have never embraced the notion that people needed to be bailed out when they failed. Failure was and always has been part of the plan of salvation because moral agency is in play. The idea of government-mandated social safety nets has quietly but persistently lulled us to sleep in the last hundred years.
So on this Thanksgiving Day 2011, I give thanks to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for the bounties of this "good spot of ground. . . even that which was choice above all other parts of the land of my vineyard." (See Jacob 5:43). There was intentional design involved to provide bounties in natural resources. There would be a place on Earth where the blessings of freedom could take root and flourish, and those blessings are mentioned in the preamble of the greatest document ever penned by the hand of man, the Constitution of the United States of America.
My thanks this year flow to God for enabling us to continue preserving our liberty. This is still a unique and exceptional country of ours. It was designed to be so if we could apply the choices of our agency to prevent those who would undermine and erode the stated goals of enthroning individual sovereignty here. When we permit the vocal minority who threaten to destroy the foundation upon which America was built, our free-enterprise, private-property system, and displace it with the collective redistribution of resources to equalize wealth, we have forsaken our heritage and squandered our agency.
Freedom has never been free, after all. The warriors on the battlefields of this world have been forever the watchful and protective guardians of freedom's flame. I despise war. As Benjamin Franklin said, "There is no such thing as a good war, and no such thing as a bad peace." But peace has been taken from the earth because of the abuse of agency. That said, we must forever remain grateful to Americans who voluntarily serve us in all branches of the Armed Forces. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. They have valiantly defended this Republic and all our freedoms. They've done it for 235 years and counting.
When we brashly launched the American experiment in 1776 with an audacious accusation against King George III, the British tyrant, our founders penned a "self-evident truth" in the Declaration of Independence. The document states boldly their belief that all men are created equal. Every man is born with the same opportunity to make of his life what he chooses.
That inspired declaration is consistent with every revealed jot and tittle of the plan of happiness we have received from our Father in Heaven. It was never intended either in heaven or here on earth that every man would take the opportunity equally. The inequality of results was always assured. Once you pick agency, outcomes cannot be guaranteed, nor should they be. Guaranteeing outcomes is stripping freedoms. May we never tire of permitting opportunity for success in this country and allowing everyone to keep the fruits of his labor without fear of redistribution by a federal government grown too big, too cumbersome, and too invasive.
Let us give thanks for the colonists who originally discovered the secret to productivity, wealth, and happiness. Let us be vigilant in preserving that exceptional American tradition. Lest we forget, let us all remember these truths today especially. Let us remember that socialism was never, is not now, and never will be the law of consecration.
I am grateful for many things on this Thanksgiving Day in 2011. Most of all I am grateful for the God who continues to bless this "good spot of ground," the America I love, despite the growing evidence we are less and less deserving.
Let us realign our thinking and preserve these precious blessings for future generations.