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At the close of America’s Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was stopped at the door and asked by a lady, “Well, Dr. Franklin, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” Franklin’s reply: “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Our forefather understood that governments can morph from freedom to tyranny in a swift few generations. Indeed, political scientists have observed that politics swing like the pendulum of a clock from freedom to anarchy to despotic emperors. They agree that a republic is an engine that won’t go of itself; it must be pedaled by citizens.
This July 4 as we celebrate our freedom, stop and contemplate what causes a republic to fail as well as succeed. For instance: the cause of failure for a republic…not knowing history, living off government handoffs, electing leaders of bad character, greed, expecting government to fix everything, too much power in the hands of a few, government debt, so many immigrants allowed in that we fail to assimilate them, or teach them our values…. Other?
Ah, but here are things we all can do to protect our freedoms… prayer, following current events, holding leaders accountable, doing for yourself, helping others, electing Godly leaders, asking hard questions and demanding straight answers, balancing the budget, eschewing big government, knowing our history…. More?
Today, we act like freedom is a thing we can never lose. But we can forfeit it unless we are vigilant.
The Reverend Stephen Crotts is pastor of Village Presbyterian Church in Charlotte Court House, VA. He is also the director of the Carolina Study Center, Inc., a campus ministry, located in Chapel Hill, NC. Pastor Crotts may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.