On the Mark, Episode 13: God Bless the USA
July 2, 2009
Yesterday I was sitting in a Panera Bread, eating my bowl of broccoli cheese soup and doing my work on my laptop. A group of people who work together sat down at a large table near me to have their lunch.
One of the guys commented that there was a car in the parking lot at their workplace with a bumper sticker for a political candidate from the last election. He said that the owner of the company would have a fit over this (because it was for the “other side”), and the person needed to remove the bumper sticker if they wanted to keep their job.
He wasn’t joking; he was being serious.
Another employee responded, “Well, what if it wasn’t an employee. Maybe it was a vendor’s car. You can't do anything about that.”
To which the guy retorted, “Then it’s time to find a new vendor.”
Another employee had the guts to chime in, “This is America. People are free to have whatever bumper sticker they want. It’s called Freedom of Speech.”
To which the guy who brought up the topic in the first place just sneered and kept quiet for a while. But a few minutes later, he was bringing up politics again. He pretty much let it be known that the opposite political party was nothing but a bunch of evil people.
With the anniversary of the country being celebrated this weekend, it’s a good time to stop and think about what it means to be an American.
And for me, over the last six months I’ve found myself spending a lot of time studying early American history. Current events in our country have been making me kind of dizzy, so I decided to go back to the source material.
What I have found is that the more I study history, the more fascinating I find it to be.
I know a lot of people are bored or uninterested in studying history, and that’s unfortunate. History is not about dates and figures. No. History is about people, and the events that happen as a result of their motivations.
Here are a few misc. things I’ve learned about the founding fathers, and the birth of our country. I hope you stick with this week's topic, and see it through to the end:
A lot of the founders were Freemasons. Many of the ideas and symbols of our early country are steeped in Freemasonry.
There has been a bit of fascination of late in pop culture about secret societies and hidden knowledge. Some of it is true, while a lot of it is total fabrication or unsubstantiated speculation. Some wonder if there are secret societies at work now, trying to shape our country and entire world into a new world order.
Some historians would say that it was this sort of underground, secret society-led movement that is responsible for the creation of our country. Some go so far as to suggest that the United States is an experiment in the philosophies of the Freemasons being put into action. In fact, they claim that philosophies and actual phrases were lifted right from their secret documents and placed into our founding documents.
There remains a lot of mysteries associated with secret societies, their motivations, etc. But in essence, organizations like the Freemasons are sort of a clique of privileged people who share information, thoughts, mutual respect, and are motivated for the pursuit of common interests.
In the case of the Freemasons, they considered themselves a brotherhood who believe in a Supreme Being. And their thoughts and actions pertaining to government were their way of making God’s will happen on earth.
Some would say that many of the founding fathers were Christians, while others say that many of the big names of that time actually believed in Deism (the belief in The Almighty, but not in any religious texts like the Bible). This would be for you to research to find out more about. Just google the word “freemasonry” or “deism” for more information. Or go to Wiki and read about Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, etc.
While studying the souls of these founding fathers, one thing is for sure. They were very principled in their ideas about government, free will, etc. There might not have been any point in time in history where so many intelligent, principled and driven people were together in one place at the same.
However, they were not all boy scouts.
Ben Franklin was a horny-old man, and enjoyed the parties and wild escapades while he was in France (while Mrs. Franklin stayed behind in America). It’s pretty much established now that Jefferson fathered children with at least one of his slaves, and there are rumors of George Washington’s diversions while away from Martha (most historians will still not go that far, though).
We must keep in mind that these were men who were powerful and could have pretty much what they wanted – and they did. And people are flawed and complicated humans now, and they were flawed and complicated humans back then.
And at first glance, it would seem like all of the founding fathers had the sole purpose in mind of creating a new country. Not true. In actuality, the creation of our country happened in fits and starts over a lot of years. And even when the delegates met in 1776, they were not all of the same mind. It took a lot of arguing and shouting back and forth. It took backroom deals, and even a quarter of the Declaration of Independence was cut out so that they could have something to agree upon.
One provision would have pretty much ended or curtailed slavery in the new country, but this was a deal-breaker of course for the Southern colonies. Just imagine the pain and suffering that would have been avoided if they had found the moral will to end slavery at the founding of our country.
What would our country be like today, with no Civil War in its history? With no slave trade, no oppression, and no consequences off all of that leading up until today? I wish I had a time machine, to fill those guys in on what would happen as a result of leaving that part of the Declaration of Independence out.
Imagine the scene in Philadelphia in early July of 1776. It is in the 80s and 90s and as humid as all get out. These men were wearing wigs and big gaudy coats with stockings, meeting in a hall where they boarded up the windows so people outside couldn’t listen or watch. No air conditioning. No mosquito control. Deodorant and a morning shower were something no one would even consider.
Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, but there were actually four other men on the committee who worked with him to fashion the document. The two notable names were John Adams and Ben Franklin.
Adams’s place in history has been overshadowed by the larger giants like Washington, Jefferson and the like -- but even Jefferson wrote that there would not have been a Declaration of Independence without John Adam’s influence on the other delegates. Some have said that Jefferson captured the heart of the Revolution when he wrote the Declaration; but Adams captured its mind with his ability to persuade others to the cause.
The friendship between Jefferson and Adams in an interesting study. They worked together to make this new nation with the creation and signing of the Declaration; but then later their ideological differences caused them to become political enemies. They spent many years bitterly resenting each other.
Then years later, a mutual friend encouraged Adams to write a letter to Jefferson. They ended up writing 158 letters to each other over their final 14 years, discussing their views on government, politics, religion, etc. They managed to restore their friendship, and even expand upon it.
But what most people don’t know is what happened on July 4, 1826. It was the 50th birthday of the United States, a day of great celebration throughout the country.
But did you know that the very author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, died that very same day?
And the second most important person responsible for the drafting and adoption of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams, died just a few hours after Jefferson? His last words were reported to be, “Jefferson survives.”
Isn’t there something weirdly ironic, or even predestined, that both of those men – founding fathers of our country, the second and third presidents (Jefferson was also Adam’s vice president), friends, then political adversaries, then friends again -- would both die within hours of each other on the same day? On the 50th birthday of our country, no less?
Isn’t that incredible!?
So here we are, over 200 years later, and sometimes it seems like our country is falling apart. We have people sitting in Panera Bread angry that someone has a bumper sticker on their car. Is this what our founding fathers had in mind for us? To get angry over bumper stickers? Are they rolling over in their graves due to our lack of purpose and direction?
Or maybe this example would make them proud. That in America, you can display your bumper sticker, and it can tick someone off. But you can do it with freedom from your government from ordering you to take it off. Or throwing you in jail for it.
In America, when your side loses an election, you don’t have to fear that you will end up in jail. No, you plan for the next election, and you do what you can to get your point across. If you don’t like what is happening in your country, you do have the power to change it.
You change it by talking to your friends. It doesn't take a Freemason-ish secret society to make a difference. You encourage those who agree with you to also fight the good fight. And in the most respectful way possible, you show those who disagree with you why you think and believe the way you do.
The answer is not to vilify the other party or other side, to make someone out to be the boogeyman and the cause of all of your ills. That just makes you look like a left or right wing kook. It makes you that hot and bothered guy at Panera Bread.
No, the best way you can change America is to live your life in the most honorable way you know how. People will learn to admire and respect you. They will see that quiet confidence you have, and wonder how they can get it.
And in time, they will understand that you have that quiet confidence because you have principles which you live by. Principles which transcend government, political parties, etc.
Principles from which a country was founded. And principles in which this country needs to get back to in order to continue. Principles for our children’s generation, and our children’s children’s children . . .
One person can’t change the world . . . but we can each change ourselves. When enough people do this, then you have a movement. And when you have a movement, then you have change.
And THAT is the change we all can believe in. It’s not a slogan that someone uses to win a campaign. It is a decision to live your life according to your tried and true principles.
The change comes from within.
Happy Fourth of July. It is not a holiday to eat, drink, and watch fireworks. No, it is so much more. It is a holiday which celebrates principles which are self evident. That we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness . . .
Here is one of the best songs of all time that expresses loves for this country that we live in. God Bless the USA, indeed:
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