“We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors and for the purpose of profiting from dearly bought experience (Washington)
In the 200+ years of our nation’s existence we have encountered and overcome a vast array of challenges in areas ranging from establishing a new form of democracy, creating widespread wealth through a free market economy, maintaining the right to free speech even during times of great turmoil and establishing our uniquely American culture among citizens of many different origins. We are both a noble and successful nation due in large measure to the foundational principles established by our founders – timeless principles that have served all successive generations of Americans.
Our founders, fresh from their militarily improbable victory in the war of independence recognized the promise of the new nation came from the ambition of its people and designed a governmental system to maximize that potential. They also demonstrated their understanding of human nature by devising a unique set of checks and balances to ensure no person, group, or branch of government could become too powerful, stealing the individual liberty that they had risked so much to gain. The timeless wisdom in our foundational principles is a that what constitutes a successful society is determined by the citizens of that society and then implemented by government, rather than the government arbitrarily deciding what is best and enacting it on the citizens’ behalf.
Patrick Henry, known best for saying “give me liberty or give me death” also said: “Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A (spoiled) state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.”
The diffusion of knowledge and an enlightened citizenry are essential elements required to maintain liberty. Deepening our understanding and recommitting ourselves as citizens to the foundational principles of American democracy can provide invaluable guidance to address our present and future challenges.