as published in the Blytheville Courier News on Wednesday, July 1, 2015
By TOM HENRY
Getting ready for work this morning I was confronted by the words of the great American country music philosopher Aaron Tippin: “You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything”. His words challenge us to consider the virtue of taking a stand for what is right, even at a cost. Missing the big picture holds true for individuals, companies, communities and nations as well.
Surely each of us have spent too much money while receiving terrible customer service for an inferior product at companies that have lost their way. Companies that , thirty years ago, were guided by their founder’s principles and did things right, but now are adrift in the sea of mediocrity. These companies, originally, stood for community, value, quality, etcetera. Obviously, these same companies now stand more for quarterly earnings, cash flow, price gouging and have forgotten the consumer. Basically, they have forgotten their founder’s vision that previously made them successful. It is only a matter of time before these corporate giants will also join the growing list of failed business icons of the past.
|Likewise, as we approach the Fourth of July, celebrating our nation’s birth, we find ourselves in a terrific position to self-evaluate whether or not we as a nation have lost faith with our purpose, mission and founding vision. What did we stand for? What do we stand for now? What, if anything, do we need to do to get back on course?|
America the idea, not the geographic location, has been perhaps the most powerful idea mankind has ever conceived. Revolutionary not only in the 18th century, but if we are honest, equally so today. It is so very easy to assume that the world as a whole is exactly like our own backyard, but it isn’t. Tyranny and injustice surrounds us still.
What did America’s founders stand for? They stood for “all men are created equal” but did not promise that all men would always remain that way or that all men would prosper equally. They believed in a meritocracy where hard work was the rule and rejected collectivism (see Jamestown). They stood for “innocent until proven guilty”. Just read about John Adam’s defense of British soldiers after the so called “Boston Massacre” and how the right to be tried before ones peers and to confront one’s accusers in open court is foundational to checking arbitrary tyrannical imprisonment and/or punishment (see IRS presumption of guilt until proven innocent and suspension of habeas corpus in some cases under the Patriot Act).
They stood for freedom, where no one is above the law and where we live in a nation of laws. They rejected a nation where there was a “ruling class” that could do whatever they wanted and get away with it and a “serf class” to carry the weight and pay the bill. Hmmm! Do I really need to give examples of this?
|They stood for the concept that “the government derives its power from the consent of the governed”. They work for us and not the other way around. The founding fathers had massive demonstrations and eventually went to war (in part) over governmentally mandated purchases and excessive taxes (see Boston Tea Party and the Navigation Acts). I find it very difficult to believe, despite recent the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, that the founding fathers would agree with a federal government mandating purchases today (i.e. Obamacare). Also, the average American has to work from January 1st until April 24th just to pay taxes (see Tax Liberation day).|
They stood for the right to be “free from unreasonable search and seizure”. Can any of us believe that Patrick Henry or Samuel Adams would have been okay with NSA phone, email and wire taps, or all of the Patriot Act? In their day, government spying usually resulted in a “tar and feathering” or worse at a “liberty tree” in the center of town.
They stood for a nation whose Constitution restrained the government, not the people. The Tenth Amendment demands that the overwhelming majority of issues do not belong within the purview of the federal government, but are to be dealt with locally.
They stood for the fact, that there are rights that are not given to Americans by the government or any document, but belong to all men everywhere as a birthright by virtue of being human. They saw them as God given rights such as the “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. These rights are the ones listed in the “Bill of Rights”. It is of little wonder that those rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights have been the ones most under attack. These rights include free speech, religious freedom, gun rights, the right to privacy, and the guarantee of a public trial when accused of a crime.
Our world is facing great tyranny and injustice like massive cases of gender inequality such as women in Saudi Arabia and Iran live under; religious persecution such as is seen in Egypt, Sudan, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and North Korea.; modern slavery such as is seen in many Muslim Middle Eastern nations; sex trafficking with exploitation and slavery as seen nearly everyone around the world; genocide such as in Darfur; governmental oppression and despotism such as is found in North Korea; and all of the above plus terrorism, murder, torture, rape and murder as practiced by ISIS.
In that same world we find an America, concerning itself with little more than pop culture, material excess, moral degeneracy and selfish hedonism. Bruce Jenner’s transgender plans and whether or not people should be denied their first amendment right of expression via confederate flags is the topic at water coolers and social media sites. Our media and courtrooms echo arguments regarding whether a Christian baker must be required to bake a cake for same sex couples and whether or not men that identify themselves as a woman should be allowed to use the girls’s room. Very little is done to address and advocate for the expansion of the American experiment regarding the real global tragedies.
America has been “the Beacon of Freedom”, an “Empire of Liberty”, and the “last best hope on Earth”. I also recognize General Washington’s warning of entangling ourselves into the affairs and alliances of other nations. However, if we do not take a stand against tyranny today, then who will?
Have I lost faith in America? Absolutely not, because I know that the people of this great nation still hold these truths to be self evident. However, it is time to get rid of the bums in Washington who have lost the founders’ vision. They have violated Aaron Tippin’s warning that “you’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” In fact, what are we falling for?
I submit that if we return to our original message, our real purpose for existing, and “take a stand”, then we will once again begin to bring light to the world, freedom to the masses and hope to a dark humanity.