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point of view July 3, 1991


Overton Love Turner II

"Government would not be necessary if all men were angels." James Madison

This Thursday, July 4, we Americans once again celebrate our Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. A majority of us, I suspect, will consider this a celebration of no great contemporary consequence, and will rejoice in the notion that the Revolution is over and we won. The truth is, the American Revolution is still being fought by many aware and alert Americans. It is by no means over.

We miss the fact because we are thinking in terms of "The War of the Revolution." That war was only a short operation, a military action to drive the British army from American territory. The real world of the revolution began with the truths enunciated In the Declaration of Independence.

The two Ideals that the architects of the revolution attempted to work out, were: (1) a system of government that would make it impossible for a tyrant or dictator ever to gain control over the people and (2) an ethos where each individual could determine his own goal and happiness. This was a revolutionary ideal, a complex ideal, and one that has not yet been realized. We still have work to do.

Even though the Constitution granted men the ideal of human freedom, it was not practiced. The Indian and Negro were left out. This was a case of not making effective the ideal that all men were to have freedom and justice.

The Civil War resulted from this failure to respect the meaning of our Revolution. It almost proved to be the weakness that destroyed us. Failure to understand the American Revolution is still our greatest weakness.

The enemies of democracy are not just tyrants, but even such a seemingly innocent thing as technology. Our technology could reduce us to a "beehive." Bad economic policy could result in an American oligarchy. The population explosion could strain democratic process beyond endurance.

And these are only a few examples of dangers to be watched. But the greatest danger of all is the failure of the American public to understand the principles of the Declaration of Independence—to appreciate, love, and practice them.

The best way to celebrate Independence Day is to get out your copy of the Declaration, read it again and meditate upon its wisdom, and make it a family affair. It is that important to your own good.

As long as one person on the earth is in political chains, we have the American Revolution to fight. For freedom, the world is still a very dangerous place. So keep your mind alert and your powder dry although I doubt If the powder will do much good. Small ants are of little use against a modern Ate. It is no longer 1776.

Our only hope is education (as Jefferson knew), the perfecting of the rational mind and the enhancement of morality and good will. And, of course, a thought-out use of the ballot box.

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copyright 2005 O.Frank