On Independence Day: Have We Forgotten Our Duty as Americans?Submitted by Professor Wall on Thu, 07/04/2013 - 15:08
In 1787 as the American Constitutional Convention ended, a civilian asked one of America’s greatest Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, what kind of government the founders had given the American people. Franklin’s answer was stunningly prophetic when considering the state of 21st Century America: “A Republic if you can keep it”. In that statement, Franklin had told all of America, both present and future generations, that a government capable of providing proper representation of the common people has been given to you, but it is left to you, the people of America, the responsibility of maintaining the great gift you have been given.
Scarcely a month ago, in early June 2013, a statement was made by the newly chosen leader of the world’s largest religion, the Roman Catholic Church, which shocked much of the world. In a question and answer session with a group of students visiting the Vatican, Pope Francis stated the following: “I did not want to be Pope. Someone who wants to be Pope does not really like themselves” Almost immediately there was an attempt by the major media corporations in the world to portray this statement as one of superb weakness which showed that the humble son of Italian immigrants to Argentina was wholly unsuited to serve as the leader of the world’s largest religion. However, the Pope’s statement had a much deeper meaning which actually embodies the spirit to which Benjamin Franklin referred in his historic statement in 1787 and it is one all Americans would do well to learn from as they celebrate the two hundred thirty-seventh anniversary of their nation’s birth.
This spirit which the Pope’s statement embodied and to which Franklin referred in his own statement is the spirit of true leadership. The spirit of true leadership does not include a desire to attain and retain great power and lord and wield it over many other human beings. Rather it includes a natural reluctance to serve in a leadership position and an inclination to do what is truly right for the people rather then simply the will of the supposed majority in order to retain one’s position of power. This spirit of true leadership was personified in America’s Founding Fathers with the reluctance to serve in leadership positions and the desire to do what was right by America’s first President, George Washington, his fellow leaders in the Continental Congress and Washington’s immediate presidential successors, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and others. It was this true leadership that enabled America to survive the growing pains of its early history and establish a firm foundation so that when the War Between the States arrived in the mid-19th Century, it would be able to survive that tragedy and continue to grow into the 20th and 21st Century.
However, as America moves into the 21st Century she finds herself threatened by an internal danger. As many everyday Americans struggle with their natural reluctance to serve, they find themselves discouraged from taking up positions of leadership in their communities by the filth-filled backstabbing actions and propaganda of individuals who are consumed with ambitions to attain great wealth and power through manipulation of the leadership positions in America. Faced with such ambition and corrupt tactics by these power-hungry individuals, many Americans have begun to shy away from their duty of serving their country as leaders for short periods of time by the apparent filth which accompanies the politics involved with attaining the leadership positions. If this grown reluctance to serve is allowed to morph into a refusal to serve and so left unchecked by each individual in his own choices, it can become a fatal flaw to America’s system of government for it is the danger of which Franklin warned: “if you can keep it”. In order to retain freedom, the system established must be protected by true leaders who are naturally reluctant to serve and more inclined to do what is right for the people of America rather then what keeps them in power or enriches their own pockets. The only way to bring forth these true leaders is for the everyday American to once again realize their forgotten duty as a citizen of this great nation: namely the duty to step forward and serve as a leader in some form or capacity for a short period of time to ensure that the freedom won by the brave colonists of the late 18th Century will not be eaten away by power-hungry individuals. It is true that the system has become clogged with the filth of political mudslinging which has helped grow the reluctance of everyday Americans to become involved in the leadership positions, but then perhaps, as Pope Francis told Christians recently, it is dirty because the good people (of any religion) are not involved.
It is this choice that everyday Americans must make as they face down what could legitimately be considered the biggest crisis of America’s long and proud history. If they truly wish to overcome this crisis and preserve the freedoms won and protected by so many of their forefathers over the last two and a half centuries, then they must not allow their natural reluctance to lead become an outright refusal to serve as leaders. They must step up and serve in the most thankless arena of battle where America’s freedoms are challenged: the political arena. If they do so, they will eventually defeat those who would sacrifice America’s freedoms for their own self-gratification. It will not be an overnight transformation, but will help hasten the return of freedom to America in today’s fast-changing world. For true leadership can change a nation, as a plantation owner from Virginia, a retired actor from California and an elderly congressman from Texas and his son have shown America in the sacrifice of their own lives to become true leaders.
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