Friday, July 1, 2016

American History - The Nation's First Words

Here's a perspective that might look familiar to today's observant citizens.

Prelude to War!   In Virginia, the French and British were quarreling over land and the right to settle folks on it.  Land companies had been formed in Virginia to exploit the development of the region.  The French and Indian War that followed was just another contest, a continuation of the conflict between the two empires, and it was, as we now understand, an economic war for who gets the riches and the right to rule. 

The French and the British had long been engaged in conquest for wealth and expanse.  Claiming a land as their own, everything in it became national property. The method, sometimes called 'mercantilism', is a government's practice of controlling the economy for the purpose of increasing the wealth of one nation alone. It is monopolistic; i.e., an exclusive privilege to develop and conduct trade.  By granting monopolies to those companies and people whom they control, governments increase the wealth at their disposal.  That's how it works.

Mercantilism is sometimes described as economic nationalism, since it aims at enriching the nation at the expense of others. It is based on the premise that in international trade, one nation must gain and another must lose. 

Adam Smith spoke clearly against the idea in his Wealth of Nations. Mercantilism, he argued, is the equivalent of economic warfare, and often leads to war between nations. Free trade, on the other hand, when unencumbered by mercantilist practices such as government subsidies for certain industries, tariffs, and monetary restrictions, tends to promote peaceful relations between countries.  Is he right?  How are we doing?

By the time of the French and Indian War, the French and British empires had been at each other's throats for more than half a century. This would be but the latest engagement in a long series. These imperial wars spanned the European continent and spilled into to the Atlantic, the Caribbean and North America, into the Indian Ocean and beyond. The French suffered a humiliating defeat in the French and Indian War, perhaps one reason they were later eager to help the Americans in their rebellion against the British.  
  • Nine years of the French and Indian War; meanwhile, empire and wealth rule.

    • King George raises taxes on trade in the colonies, hoping to salvage the Brit's national economy; their war debt is crippling. It causes opposition in the colonies, of course; the Tea Party, etc.  Tension escalates steadily through the years; violence ensues along with revolutionary rhetoric.

    • The War of Independence finally begins with the battles of Lexington and Concord.
      • Our Declaration of Independence announces the birth of the nation, and the Articles of Confederation are introduced as the war rages on.

        • The Articles of Confederation are ratified, and finally after seven years, the war ends.
        • Our first years as a new nation, learning and laboring to build a process of good government.
        • The Constitutional Convention and subsequent ratification of our Constitution by the states.

      The path of revolution spanned decades.  The price was extracted in lives and deaths over those years and afterwards.  Childhoods and dreams, days of peace, of joy, and years - forfeit.  All for the sake of - our freedom.  And it changed the world.

      The Nation's First Words  --  The revolution was entered into by men and women who understood.  I will no longer sacrifice my life and that of my children for the sake of a king's wealth and dominion.  I will not pour out my life for some empire builder, nor will  I will sacrifice my children's future for some distant wealthy few who mercantilize the very reason for our existence.  

      "What do we mean by the Revolution? The war? That was no part of the revolution; it was only an effect and consequence of it. The revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected from 1760–1775, in the course of fifteen years, before a drop of blood was shed at Lexington."  President John Adams

      There was clarity and extraordinary nobility in that revolution and in the principles upon which the nation was subsequently founded; it was quite personal.  

      So today as monied influence again controls the political arena, as multi-national corporations rule the world marketplace, as trade has become yet again an economic warfare whose first purpose is the extraction of wealth from individuals and from countries for the sake of the wealthy few, what might the response be from a good conscience before God?  Is our culture focused on things of which He might approve?  And, how might He describe our lifestyle?  Is this the needle's eye, perhaps, through which neither camel nor the wealthy might pass?  

      If you've not lost a beloved father, a precious child, or a dear friend to the wars of empire and the economic warfare that continues today, you are unusual in this world.  Through poverty, deprivation, oppression, and armed conflict, most of us have. Gladly have the kings of this world offered up our children on the altar to their gods of wealth and rule.  

      As we were reminded on a recent Sunday morning, in the history of mankind, there's been only one who, rather than requiring of us the sacrifice of our children, has given His own son for the redemption of us all.  That which we see happening before us today is not the world He offers.  Not yet.  :)


      So, is this coming election a turning point in our national history? Or as some have suggested, is it the bottom of our decline beyond which we might rise to some more noble stature? :) Living through history is such a pain, and it takes years longer than we'd like. There are so many great things about being an American and about living in this country. We can only hope that this deadly era will one day be far behind us.

      From our declaration, and worth refreshing our memory,

      We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

      In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

      We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

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