America celebrates liberty and the world is the beneficiary

Jim Blasingame

Seven score and fifteen years ago, Abraham Lincoln’s inspired speech at the Gettysburg Cemetery dedication included these immortal words: “…our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Four score and seven years earlier, one of those fathers, an inspired Thomas Jefferson (with suggestions from no less able an editor than Ben Franklin), authored what is arguably the most important secular document in history. The second paragraph of America’s Declaration of Independence begins with this passionate passage:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Having the spirit, vision and courage to declare independence at a time when monarchy was the globally accepted model of government was unprecedented. Fighting for those principles then, and defending them from within and without for more than two centuries since, is legendary.

To be sure, America has had lapses in the delivery of some of these tenets. Indeed, while Lincoln was trying to save his beloved, but war-torn country, he made this judgment: “We made the experiment; and the fruit is before us.” 

Even today, America is a work-in-progress. Our journey of understanding has had, and will continue to have, many waypoints where new things are learned and past wrongs can be righted. But in terms of contribution to the world, Ronald Reagan’s “shining city upon a hill” has an incomparable record. Warts and all, the United States of America is still a benefactor nation unlike any other in history, with arguably billions of global beneficiaries having been blessed by our generosity and inspired by our ideals.

As Jefferson reasoned, freedom isn’t an American franchise – it’s a blessing from God found around the world. But freedom to pursue dreams wherever they take us is a very American ideal we call liberty. Liberty is a contract Americans give to each other every day as we pledge devotion to our secular scripture, the Constitution.

In America, we took the blessing of freedom and the ideal of liberty and created the energy of the American Dream, entrepreneurship. And it’s become one of our most important exports, especially since the end of the Cold War. And the benefits of entrepreneurship transcends business, as confirmed by 19th century French economist, Frederick Bastiat, who proposed that “when goods cross borders, armies don’t.”

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have been essential to millions of American small business owners, as generations have been both the beneficiary and steward of entrepreneurship as they claimed and perpetuated the American dream. Thank you, Founders.

This week we celebrate the blessings of another Independence Day in America, where freedom of expression is our first and most precious right. But this year, perhaps more than any other time since Gettysburg and Shiloh, as we claim these rights and deploy them with passion, let’s pledge to each other a renewed devotion to the spirit of Lincoln’s closing prayer so beautifully conveyed in his first Inaugural Address. That the relationships we have with each other will be “touched by the better angels of our nature.” Amen.

Write this on a rock … Happy Independence Day, America. We stand on awesome shoulders – will history show ours so worthy?

Jim Blasingame is host of The Small Business Advocate Show and author of the new book, The 3rd Ingredient: The Journey of Analog Ethics into the World of Digital Fear and Greed.

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