Faith & Life


Independence Day is a Good Time to Recommit to What Really Makes American Great

By Cathi Douglas     7/2/2019

When the Founding Fathers first debated the U.S. Constitution, one ideal stood out: The United States would be governed by the people. And freedom to worship freely was at the core of this new country. 

It was tempting to crown George Washington as king as some wanted to do. Fortunately our first head of state had the foresight to reject that idea, and the presidency was born. 

In light of today’s often-stormy partisan politics, increasing talk of nationalism, and divisive trade wars, it is critical for us to recommit ourselves to fundamental American values. 

Take, for example, Senate Bill 360, the controversial bill now in front of the state legislature. If passed, it would mandate that clergy, including Catholic priests, report the admission of child abuse from anyone who reveals their actions during the sacrament of reconciliation. While some believe this is a logical step toward preventing further abuse, others believe fervently that it violates the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution that guarantees freedom to practice one’s religion, or not to practice any religion. 

If there was ever a time when our freedom needed defense, it is now. 

Our individual rights are threatened today as never before. Privacy is compromised by intelligent technological innovations. The freedom to assemble often is questioned, especially if we are brown or black. Our religion is under fire by hate groups who want to compel us to worship as they do. Increasingly our leaders want to shut the doors of our country to the needy, whether they be political refugees or parents desperate to feed their children. 

When faced with these dilemmas, it’s sometimes tempting to cut ties with society. By going off the grid, we would depend only on ourselves for survival, only our values to live by. 

Yet one of America’s core principles is that our government is a collaborative process — an often ugly-looking one, but one that demands our vigilance and has stood the test of time as our democracy succeeds. 

Our system depends on a series of thoughtful checks and balances to function properly. That means our government functions efficiently because we elect representatives who have our best interests at heart – that truly make the government work “for the people.”  

It’s as important for us to thoughtfully choose knowledgeable local representatives as it is for us all to wisely elect a president who can best lead our country. 

We Americans believe that no one person leads or controls us. As individuals who treasure our freedom, we agree to collaborate.  

Determined that our individuality is sacred — including our freedom to live, worship, and work the way we want — we agree to let the majority rule.  

As Americans we can debate and disagree, while at heart we share the core belief that liberty is precious. The result? Diverse opinions, disagreements, and philosophical divergence are sacred to the process. 

If we become passive, we relinquish the responsibility to hold our leaders accountable, threatening the very foundation of our beloved country. 

As Independence Day dawns this July 4, we thank the insightful leadership of our Founding Fathers. It’s the perfect time to recommit to the values they held dear.  

When they drafted the closing lines of the Constitution, our leaders committed not only to lofty ideas that still guide us today, but to defend each other and hold themselves accountable. Despite their differences, they shared the ideal of a free people. 

Our forebears’ shared commitment to institute and defend American values — regardless of their political differences or diverse persuasions — compels us to honor their leadership, revere their sacrifices, and vow to carry on the precious ideals we still treasure today.