Jimmy Moore posted this YouTube video on his blog yesterday.  It’s a wonderful reminder of how America came to be an independent nation – which is a miracle in itself, considering that the colonists took on the mightiest military of the day.

Hearing these words spoken aloud is also a reminder of the brilliance of Thomas Jefferson, who is likely the most intelligent man ever to occupy the White House.  You could speak to Jefferson, and he could simultaneously write out what you were saying in Greek with his left hand and in Latin with his right.

I’ve heard revisionist historians describe the Founders as “rich guys who didn’t want to pay taxes.”  Yeah, right. 

Many of the Founders were indeed rich, which means they were thriving under the British system and could’ve lived comfortably and happily without changing anything.  They chose otherwise.  Some of them spent their entire fortunes on the war and died penniless for their efforts.  And of course, had the war failed – which was the most likely outcome – they would’ve all been hanged.

I know my country has flaws.  All countries have flaws.  But I have no patience for people who claim to love America, yet always seem to focus exclusively on her flaws. 

I love my wife.  Do I think she’s perfect?  Of course not.  But when I’m talking about her with other people, I don’t jump at every opportunity to criticize her.  I don’t point to other women and say I wish she was more like this one or that one.  I don’t blather on and on about mistakes she made as a teenager.  And I certainly don’t blame her for problems she didn’t create. 

(You think that doesn’t happen among so-called patriots?  I once heard one of those “I criticize my country because I love it so much and that’s the truest form of patriotism, blah-blah-blah” types blame America for poverty in Africa – which was colonized by the British and Dutch, and has been the recipient of American generosity for decades – most of it wasted by dictators.) 

So as you’re enjoying the fireworks tonight, here are a few good things to keep in mind about your country:

  • There were no democracies in the modern world until the Revolutionary colonists created one.  Their efforts and sacrifices inspired the modern democratic movement.
  • When President John Adams lost the election of 1800 to Thomas Jefferson, it was perhaps the first time in history that power was transferred to a fierce rival without anyone being killed in the process.
  • In most countries throughout most of history, your prospects for success were largely determined the day you were born.  Class was destiny.  America’s emphasis on freedom eventually made success an attainable goal for all people of all backgrounds, which is why millions of people chose to emigrate here.  Whatever your opinion of President Obama’s politics, the mere fact that he is the president is a stunning testament to how little class actually matters here.  (And if you can think of another country where the people freely elected a member of an ethnic minority as their leader, please let me know.)
  • Nazism, Fascism and Communism all began in Europe.  They were all defeated in Europe thanks largely to the sacrifices of Americans. Without America, more than 200 million Europeans would still be living under the jackboots of dictators.  Instead, they are free to criticize us without fear of waking up in a gulag.
  • Americans give more of their incomes to charity than people from any other country in the world – better than double the percent given by the Brits, who rank number two.  I’m talking of course about voluntary giving, which is the only true form of charity … not the “charity” of government programs, in which people vote to give away their neighbor’s income.  After the Asian tsunami, our government gave $900 million in relief … but American citizens gave $2 billion. 
  • You are also free to criticize your country without fear of waking up in a gulag.  But at least for today, I hope you’ll choose to give it a rest.

Happy Fourth of July.

5 Responses to “Independence Day”
  1. TonyNZ says:

    Have a good one. I would rather be here than there, but I have respect for Americans as a whole.

    I must admit I know very little about New Zealand — although I did once play Trivial Pursuit with a group that included the mayor of Auckland, maybe 20 years ago. We were all killing time before a wedding.

  2. Dan Hall says:

    Thank you! Your post reminds me of the thought that: “Our system sucks, until you consider the alternatives.” On another note, I worry, that public spending reduces private contributions to charity. Is this because we think this public spending negates the need for our involvement? This concerns me, because we would have less influence over the effect and direction of the public spending.

    I believe high government spending both reduces the amount we have left to give and creates the impression that “the government took care of it” so we don’t have to.

    I’ve also read that about 40 cents of each dollar collected for government social programs ends up being spent on the supposed beneficiaries, whereas with private charities, the average is closer to 85 cents. So we’re getting more than double the bang for the buck when we leave the government out of it.

  3. Sue says:

    “(And if you can think of another country where the people freely elected a member of an ethnic minority as their leader, please let me know.)”

    How about Sonia Gandhi in India? She is Italian, definitely an ‘ethnic minority!’

    Glad to know there’s at least one more.

  4. M Lewis says:

    “(And if you can think of another country where the people freely elected a member of an ethnic minority as their leader, please let me know.)”

    Was Alberto Ken’ya Fujimori of Peru considered an ethnic minority?

    He was Peru’s “Change” candidate in 1990.

    Fujimori doesn’t sound like a Peruvian name, so maybe so. If so, the count stands at three.

  5. Willa Jean says:

    Well said, Tom.

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