Constitutional Inheritance - The Rise of the Individual Citizen
We’ve all watched the TV shows where the police catch the criminals and as they arrest them, they say, “You have the right to remain silent…” Yes, we all know what it means to read someone their rights, but what about their responsibilities?
Developed over thousands of years, western thought gave rise to a philosophy that enthrones the importance of the individual. Today, we esteem the life of every individual as sacred and full of potential. Likewise, each individual is responsible for their own conduct and development. Most of us take these thoughts for granted, but many cultures throughout time have not held them true. By espousing this philosophy, the United States has provided greater prosperity and freedom to more people than ever before or since! Only by aligning codified law with this “Natural Law” can a society hope to succeed to such a degree.
I love the Declaration of Independence! Its first two paragraphs so articulately explain this philosophy upon which the Constitution is established. I would go further to say that it captures the very essence of human life. The “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle” every human soul direction of their own life, the undiluted freedom to choose their life’s purpose, and ownership of the fruits of their labor toward that purpose; “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” And it is only by the delegation of these privileges that any righteous government has authority to act at all, and then its purpose is to secure individual rights.
Although these rights are vested in each of us, too much emphasis is placed on our rights and not enough on the responsibilities of such an endowment. It is incoherent to shirk duties and take for granted that rights will ensue. It quickly becomes obvious to the thinking person that only by assuming responsibilities and acting to fulfill them are rights even meaningful at all. The individual who abdicates his or her responsibilities and looks to others to provide their living isn’t happy, has no option to choose and isn’t really living at all.
Benjamin Franklin said, “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” The human condition has not changed with changing technology and wealth. Our fundamental nature always has and always will require the assumption of responsibility to achieve happiness. Any other approach to life will result in failure at the most basic individual level.
The Constitution establishes a system where individual worth, individual freedom, and individual responsibility are placed ahead of the demands of the collective. In order for us to continue to be a self-governing people, every generation of individual United States citizens must earn their rights by fulfilling their individual responsibility.
In America, one will only be as free as one chooses to be, and one chooses freedom by assuming responsibility.
You may be thinking “I’m just one person, my vote doesn’t matter.” In a pure democracy this may be true, where majority rules and the individual get lost in the crowd. But the United States is a Democratic Republic, where individuals engaging locally are the foundation of the representative higher levels. Being an educated, informed, active voter is the first responsibility, and there is more you can do beyond that.
I challenge you to take more responsibility for your governance - whatever that means for you - to engage more actively in your local level of this Republic, and to help bring power back to the State and local levels where your personal influence really can be felt. As I write this, I acknowledge my own responsibility to do more of the same.
I invite you to begin by going to support-defend.org and Take the Oath to support and defend the Constitution, and commit to learning and doing more to take back your individual responsibility, rights and influence in the greatest nation ever established!