With Christmas Day just hours away, our minds inevitably turn to the gifts we are set to give and receive, as a season’s worth of thought and planning reach fruition. And as the saying goes, the best presents are the ones that, in one way or another, keep on giving the whole year round. But what if you could give a gift that will last a lifetime, to be shared like a family heirloom, and passed from one generation to the next — at no cost, with an infinite rate of return?
Such is the gift of America’s founding principles, the wisdom and power of which continue to amaze almost two and a half centuries after they were first etched on parchment. The construct of self-governance, checks and balances, and protection of God-given liberties was audaciously designed not to perpetuate white supremacy and slavery, as charged by the 1619 deconstructionists of the left, but to provide the opposite: a level of individual freedom deemed inconceivable by the 18th-century world.
It would take an unparalleled act of rebellion, a riverboat gamble by the leading lights of a colonial society, to make such a gift possible. Think of what they were willing to sacrifice. These men of privilege who came to be known as our founding fathers risked everything — their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor — for the sake of an idea, a system of governance revolving around a novel concept: individual liberty. And they would do so knowing full well that if the revolution they stoked against the world’s most powerful empire did not succeed against the longest of odds, they would certainly be humiliated, condemned, and executed. If there were oddsmakers at the time, the chances of success for the bloody uprising would likely have been pegged at somewhere between 20-1 and 100-1. It would take many years and the blood of countless patriots to secure a victory for the ages.
The fact that this all went down in the times of our forebears hardly diminishes the magnitude of it all. It was a revolution that changed the world and our lives forever. The founding principles that flowed from it are every bit as applicable today as they were way back when for one simple reason: They are based on a realistic reading of immutable human nature and on what the soul perpetually strives for beyond all else: freedom of thought and action. This is why democracy would become the model for so much of a world previously given over to monarchy at best, tyranny at worst.
So, when you race excitedly toward the Christmas tree at the height of this yuletide season, allow yourself a moment to cherish afresh a present you and your family have already received, one that you will be moved to pass down through the generations, gift-wrapped for you long ago and far away by men who were willing to fall on their swords for the sake of your life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
Read more from Tim Donner.