Friday, July 17, 2020

#2 Why I love America: My First Liberties

American liberty is the first attempt by the governments of men to found a nation on the proposition that all men are CREATED equal, that they stand equal before God, and are endowed by GOD with certain unalienable rights; rights that are preexistent to the institutions of government. As such, these natural rights are inalienable, unable to be forcibly severed from the individual because our rights are not allowance from governments of men, but rather a supreme gift from God.

The Constitution of the United States was written to limit government and thus leave the individual's natural rights to be securely exercised without improper constraints by the governments of men. The greatest blessing of this Constitutional government in my life is hard to parse out, because all of the God given rights we retain because of this inspired Constitutional government are essential to my ability to live my life in a way that allows me to progress along my path to happiness. If I had to choose which of my natural rights I cherish the most, I would choose what George Washington thought of as our first liberties.

The first amendment asserts the freedom of religion and the free exercise of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom to write and share our political ideals, and to peaceably assemble and associate in the public square. These liberties guard what is central to my life, my freedom to worship God after the dictates of my own conscience, to freely and openly exercise my religion in practice and deed, and to freely teach others the tenants of my faith. There is no freedom more important to me that these. To act and speak my conscience would be the greatest loss if the protections provided by our Constitutional government were to one day be dissolved.

Arthur C. Brooks, writing for CJ magazine in 2008, discussed the profound correlation between happiness and freedom. He said this about freedom of religion:

Religious freedom—known to the Founding Fathers as the “first liberty”—probably brings happiness, too. That assertion is hard to test internationally because there are no widely accepted global indexes of religious freedom. It is even hard to test within the United States because no one without religious freedom exists to tell us how unhappy he might be. Yet we do know that people who support freedom for those with unusual religious beliefs are happier than those who do not. In a 2006 survey asking if respondents endorsed the right of people with antireligious views to speak publicly, those who said “no” were a third likelier than those who said “yes” to say that they were not too happy. In other words, religious tolerance—even tolerance of anti-religiousness—is strongly linked with happiness.

Furthermore, many of the happiest people in America achieve their happiness through faith. When asked in the 2000 GSS about the experiences that made them feel the most free, about 11 percent of adults put religious and spiritual experiences at the top of the list. And these people were more likely than those mentioning any other experience to say that they were very happy.

I thank God daily in my prayers for this blessing and for this blessing I am ever grateful for those who have labored and died in order to build up this nation and preserve it; because of my gratitude for this freedom I strive to use it to the fullest for those rights we do not exercise we most certainly will lose.

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