Making America Good Again: Happy Constitution Day!
On September 17, 1787, the Constitution of the United States of America was adopted and sent to the states for ratification. Today we celebrate this amazing document which now includes the Bill of Rights and 17 other amendments dedicated to maintaining and expanding America's commitment to freedom.
Government by the rule of law, rather than by the whims of kings, dictators or politicians was an idea centuries in the making. America's constitutional republic has survived for 229 years because even in dark times, Americans have always risen to the challenge of defending the Constitution and the freedom it protects.
Americans know the freedom we share comes with great responsibility. Ronald Reagan famously said:
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.
American citizens fight for freedom on battlefields, in statehouses and courtrooms, in public protests and in voting booths. But there is more we must do.
In 1798, John Adams observed that greed, ambition, revenge and sexual immorality "would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
In other words, for our freedom to be secure, to protect our Constitution and way of life, Americans must be people of good character.
In this election season, Donald Trump wants to "Make America Great Again." Hillary Clinton proclaims that we are "Stronger Together." Their slogans have one thing in common - both America's greatness and strength depend upon the character of the American people. It is often repeated, perhaps because we know it to be true, that "America is great, because America is good." If John Adams is right, the opposite applies as well - when America is no longer good, America will no longer be great.
History has shown us that goodness, like freedom, is not passed down in our bloodstream. Goodness must also be "fought for, protected and handed on." Some generations have done this better than others. Now it is our turn.
So whether you support the candidate who wants to make America great or the one who wants us to be stronger or another candidate altogether, it is your responsibility to be a good person and to pass goodness, like freedom, on to the next generation.
In the days to come, I will post a series of reflections on to help you think about what it means to be good and how that impacts our freedom. Read them, think about them, respond to them and share them with those around you.