Our country was founded by tough, independent people who willingly traded security and comfort for a chance to be free. The settlers at Jamestown, Virginia, the Pilgrims of Massachusetts, the Dutch who settled in New Amsterdam (later re-named New York) and others who came to America all had this in common. They were hard working people who took care of themselves and their families and expected and wanted little from government. When England tried to raise revenues by unfairly taxing the colonists they revolted and formed their own country. Many of the men who organized the revolt such as, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton and Revere, were well off and lived very comfortably. They and the others who fought risked everything, including their lives, for the dream of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
This same independent spirit carried forward through two centuries as immigrants migrated to this country looking for the American dream. They came from all over the world to pursue their natural rights for freedom, liberty and happiness. They became American citizens and assimilated into the country, learning the English language and American customs and became productive members of society. Many had the same independent spirit of the settlers who started our country. They made our country better and stronger through diversity of heritage and solidarity of American values. Our children were taught about the greatness of America and the sacrifices by our founders and others Americans who fought for freedom.
Today, we are living in a country that would be unimaginable to our founders and completely foreign to the original independent American way of life. The Federal and State governments are involved in almost every aspect of our lives and are constantly trying to gain more power over us. We are changing from an independent people to a dependent people. In an article in UPI.com published August 30, 2010 the following statistics were reported: 1 in 6 people in the United States now receives some sort of government aid, 50 million Americans are on Medicaid, 40 million Americans receive food stamps, 10 million receive unemployment benefits and 4.4 million are on welfare. In addition to this, our current government wants to control our health care, the type of cars we drive, the foods we eat and how much money we are allowed to make. What has happened to us?
I believe that a large part of the answer is that many people no longer believe in the greatness of America. Immigrants are no longer expected to assimilate into our culture and way of life. Our children are not taught much about their own country in school, they learn little or nothing about the sacrifices of our founders and the grand experiment of creating the first truly free society. Our leaders go around the world apologizing for past American aggression and arrogance. The state and federal governments play up every difficult time as a crisis that requires more government control of our lives. Our faith and belief in government and our leaders is at an all time low as every day we hear new stories of corrupt politicians violating the public trust.
We are in great danger of losing our freedoms. Benjamin Franklin foresaw this possibility and spoke of it during the constitutional convention at the conclusion of its deliberations. He stated: …” I believe further, that this (the constitution) is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in desertion as other forms (of government) have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.” Is this what has happened to us? Have we become so corrupted as a people that we need a despotic government to control us? Has the grand experiment of a free society failed like all other forms of government in the past? I have to believe that there is still enough of the independent American spirit within us to stop this from happening. I cannot even bear to think of what type of country we are leaving for our children if this is not true.