From Personal Responsibility to Personal Action
In the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, we find passages discussing worldly governments and the truth of where the ultimate authority resides. Our Founding Fathers new that truth, and they also knew that any government existing without the accountability of the governed would be dangerous.
So, they instituted among men these governing bodies who derived their just powers from the consent of the governed. They were specific in pointing out that all men were endowed by THE Creator certain unalienable rights - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Throughout the course of our nation's history, we have see those rights strengthened and weakened by our government's action and the people's inaction.
James A. Garfield, the 20th President of the United States, talked about personal responsibility of the people, not the government, in his inaugural address in 1881. He stated:
"We can not overestimate the fervent love of liberty, the intelligent courage, and the sum of common sense with which our fathers made the great experiment of self-government."
To President Garfield, self-government was "common sense."
Later on in that same speech, Garfield explained:
"Freedom can never yield its fullness of blessings so long as the law or its administration places the smallest obstacle in the pathway of any virtuous citizen."
Our 20th President knew our government could easily become a major obstacle in our pursuit of liberty.
From that point on in his inaugural address, President Garfield went on to discuss the issues of our newest citizens, the freed slaves, and how as a nation we must move forward and continue educating our future generations. To Garfield, it was common sense...it was mandatory...in order for self-government to continue to exist, that we as Americans passed down to our children the blessings of freedom and the truths of self-government's role in preserving that freedom.
"The voters of the union, who make and unmake constitutions, and upon whose will had the destinies of our governments, can transmit their supreme authority to no successors save the coming generation of voters, who are the sole heirs of sovereign power. If that generation comes to its inheritance blinded by ignorance and corrupted by vice, the fall of the republic will be certain and remediless."
"It is the high privilege and sacred duty of those now living to educate their successors and fit them, by intelligence and virtue, for the inheritance which awaits them."
President James A. Garfield understood the ramifications of one generation becoming apathetic and complacent in regards to their duty of educating their children about our nation's freedoms and how best to sustain them.
Today, I believe we live in a country...that same country President Garfield "reverently invoked the support and blessings of Almighty God"...now finds itself one, if not two, generations removed from the preservation of self-government and personal responsibility.
Today's generation of voters are accustomed to government intervention and handouts.
Today's generation believes they are not responsible for their own actions, including their votes, and therefore the government must gain more control.
Governor Mike Huckabee stated at the 2008 Texas Restoration Project that
"the best government we will ever have is not one we elect but the one we have in our own hearts as we govern ourselves in Christ. This is the foundation of our civil government."
We wouldn't need government agencies if we the people had not failed to govern ourselves.
Today's generation would not fail to govern themselves if the previous generation had not taken lightly their personal responsibility of passing down the common sense of self-government that President Garfield encouraged us about.
Will we...you and I...allow the next generation to be so ignorant?
I heard a pastor friend of mine say this past week at his father's funeral,
"growing up in Mexico, there were two words we never used...ignorant and stupid. Ignorance is when you just don't know. Stupid is when you know, yet choose to do it anyway."
The pastor went on to share about the saving knowledge of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to all who were there at the church. He concluded:
"You all are no longer ignorant."
Friends, today, we all shall not be ignorant any longer!
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