America: A Nation of Freedom
With Independence Day comes celebration with family, friends, and—depending on the year-to-date rainfall—fireworks. On the Fourth of July, we celebrate freedom, sacrifice, and the heritage of law and liberty that has shaped America into a nation of independent and resourceful citizens. On July 4, 1776, our founders adopted the Declaration of Independence, and eleven years later, they created our national constitution—a constitution intended to “form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, [and] insure domestic Tranquility. . . .” Independence Day calls us to consider our national documents, to ponder the meaning ensconced in the beloved rhetorical passages, and to remember that liberty is not self-sustaining. As the Constitution’s elegant, visionary preamble leads to its careful, clear articles, so liberty requires law. As the philosopher John Locke said, “ …the end of law is… to preserve and enlarge freedom.
For in all the states of created beings, capable of laws, where there is no law there is no freedom. For liberty is to be free from restraint and violence from others, which cannot be where there is no law. . . .” To borrow John Adam’s phrase, American government began as a “government of laws, and not of men.” Because America is a nation of laws—not a nation of arbitrary fiat but a nation of duly-debated legislation—America is a nation of freedom. The highway of freedom—of independence—stretches like the Golden Gate Bridge into the crimson horizon of a nation etched with sacrifice and glowing with promise. But American freedom remains only because the cables of sound law keep the bridge suspended in place, raising it to maturity, rescuing it from the degradation of chaos and anarchy. This Independence Day, we celebrate liberty, and in so doing, we celebrate law. As the flags wave and the fireworks spangle the sky, may we remember both our freedom and the law that upholds it—these fine, twin sisters of our national hope.
– Andrew McCartney
. John Locke, Concerning Civil Government, Second Essay, Chapter VI, http://www2.hn.psu.edu/faculty/ jmanis/locke/civilgo2.pdf (accessed July 1, 2014).
. John Adams, Novanglus Essays, No. 7, http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Novanglus_Essays/No._7 (accessed July 1, 2014).