MERIDIAN — Established in 1885 on Feb. 22. to venerate George Washington’s birthday, Presidents Day in 1971 was moved to the third Monday in February to accommodate three-day weekends for federal employees. It then morphed into a celebration of all presidents. Today it has morphed again into just another day when the post office and banks are closed.
Much else our nation used to venerate has morphed into the mundane since that day in 1776 when the Second Continental Congress formally declared our independence from England. In so doing, these forefathers adopted a declaration that laid down a principled creed to guide a new nation that was to stand the test of time.
It began, “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.”
By 1789, our Founding Fathers had drafted, and states ratified, an extraordinary constitution based on these principles that established a radical government “of the people” designed to forever secure those Creator-endowed rights.
In writing the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson drew heavily from John Locke’s “Second Treatise of Government,” wherein the English physician-turned-political-philosopher cited God-made natural law to assert that all men are created equal, the only legitimate governments are those that have the consent of the people, and “no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.”
Our Founding Fathers recognized the favor of Providence in the founding of our special nation. The Continental Congress put on the Great Seal of the United States that it adopted in 1782 the inscription “Annuit Coeptis,” meaning “he (God) has favored our undertakings.”
In 1789, George Washington, our first president, gave his first Inaugural Address, saying therein, “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.”
Today, those ties, that creed, that bound us together as one nation, under God, have morphed into bones of contention and dissent.
Many reject the notion of a creator, wiping “God” and “Creator” from school textbooks, ousting religious expressions from public places, and belittling biblical concepts of morality.
Indeed, it has become politically incorrect to side with the Bible.
If we the people now reject the notion of a creator, do we not also reject the notion of creator-endowed rights? What then are the underlying principles of our precious Constitution?
Some say liberty, alone, is a sufficient principle. But, as Locke asserted and Alexis de Tocqueville researched, “liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” Indeed, history shows liberty unconstrained by morality decays into indulgence and depravity.
Perhaps we have already morphed to that point with our rampant pornography, predatory abuse, sex trafficking, senseless murders, epidemic lawlessness, unbridled greed, drug culture and so on.
Martin Luther King dreamed that one day we the people would rise up together and live out the true meaning of our national creed. To accomplish this dream, he said, “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
As belief in a creator who favors America’s undertakings dims, shadows abound, cast by the dividers, takers, abusers and naysayers whom more and more of us tolerate and some exalt. It will take an uprising of men and women of goodwill walking in the light to morph back toward our founders’ vision.
• Bill Crawford is a Republican former state lawmaker from Meridian.