“Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.” Abraham Lincoln had an innate sense that as America progressed, attempts to thwart the very freedoms on which our nation was founded would emerge.
With Lincoln’s statement in mind, I can’t be the only one who feels a sense of urgency when considering the extent to which our country’s constitutional freedoms are eroding? Legislation that thwarts Americans’ Second Amendment right to bear arms as a result of the mentally ills’ tragic actions … Overreaching bureaucracies that unjustifiably toss aside property owners’ due process rights and enforce unconstitutional takings to meet self-serving, fiscally-motivated agendas … Federally-mandated health care programs that compromise the integrity of our religious liberties by forcing employers to provide services that necessarily contradict their faith … Educational institutions that approve admissions based on ethnicity rather than on merit as a way to meet invisible and illegal quotas.
Threats to the fundamental principles on which our nation was founded and that guide a free country are on the brink of extinction. If society continues on its freedom-thwarting path, the U.S. Constitution and those rights that our Founding Fathers deemed so critical to Americans’ liberties will become a mere part of history — something our children and grandchildren learn about in school but never have the opportunity to experience firsthand.
Remember an America in which freedom of speech allowed us to publicly voice our opinions? Where we could lawfully own a gun to protect our family from danger in our own home? Where we could worship our God without fear of legal and physical retribution? Where prosperity was a liberty that we could all achieve through the fruits of our labor?
You may be thinking to yourself, “Of course I remember; those freedoms still exist.” But consider this: When we Baby Boomers and those who preceded us were children, nowhere in the American consciousness could we have fathomed that the Pledge of Allegiance would be removed from our classrooms. Nor could we have envisioned living in a country where government tells us how we will spend our hard-earned money. Yet, what were once merely threats to our freedoms have become reality.
Whether or not you believe the Affordable Health Care Act is good medicine for our nation or you adhere to the adage ‘guns kill” or you contend “endangered species” trump human prosperity, the question is, really, what do legislation and laws fueled by emotion or agenda mean to the freedoms and liberties of the collective American society? It’s not about who’s right or wrong. It’s about preserving our freedom to be right or wrong without fear of retribution, legally or otherwise.
Taking away our rights isn’t the answer. Removing guns from society’s grasp isn’t going to stop violence. Arbitrarily and without provocation declaring one’s private property “wetlands” isn’t going to improve the outlook of our nation’s plant and animal species. Telling students that the color of their skin is more important than perseverance and good grades isn’t going to foster in our children a sense of hard work and determination.
What these violations of liberty will do, however, is divide us as a nation. History proves that passive inaction can lead to the loss of liberty. We can’t just docilely sit back while our rights are stripped away. Our freedoms must be vigorously fought for and carried on from one generation to the next.
I once read that when our nation’s founders placed their signatures on the U.S. Constitution more than two centuries ago, they surely imagined a nation in which a strong but limited central government would unite the states and oversee the operations of our country. It’s clear that America’s great patriots recognized the dangers of an unconstrained bureaucracy. That is the very reason they set limits on government.
Government plays a very important role in society. But as former President Ronald Reagan once said, “Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.” If we are to prevent our constitutional rights from becoming a thing of the past, we have to begin by heading off dangerous bureaucratic compulsions to mesh itself into Americans’ everyday lives and liberties.
It is incumbent upon us as a democracy to ensure the preservation of our fundamental freedoms, not just for ourselves but for generations to come.
Lori Nunnink lives in Sacramento.
If society continues on its freedom-thwarting path, the U.S. Constitution and those rights that our Founding Fathers deemed so critical to Americans’ liberties will become a mere part of history …