America: The great experiment in human governance
On July 4, 2026, we will mark the 250th anniversary of the founding of this great Republic — America's semi quincentennial. We are nation that has endured numerous trials, external wars, and a horrific Civil War. In spite of these challenges, as we approach 250 years , we remain a nation not without its flaws, but still a beacon of democracy that has inspired millions around the globe to seek independence from oppression and immigrants to travel to our shores seeking a better way of life.
I have several ancestors who fought and died in the Revolutionary War. One was Captain Isaac Baldwin at Bunker Hill. What caused them to leave a comfortable existence and risk it all for the nascent experiment of democracy founded by these immortal words: "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"?
When our Founding Fathers broke with the Old World, America truly was an experiment. History has shown that such experiments were tried on few occasions but previously failed. As George Washington stated, "[t]he establishment of our new government seemed to be the last great experiment for promoting human happiness."
In creating this new construct of government, our Founding Fathers determined that government is not an entity that solves the people's problems; rather, they envisioned government as a system enabling the people to solve their own problems. Thus, by design, the machine was balanced on three main axes: separation of powers, checks and balances, and a limited government.
This machine, which is embodied in the United States Constitution, marked the beginning of the end of the concept of the divine right of kings. In place of the absolutism of Old-World monarchies, the freedoms enshrined in this document created a land of opportunity and a new beginning for many who now call themselves Americans.
Having the people and not the government at the core of governance made America, the Great Experiment, truly exceptional but also uniquely vulnerable. How can an American truly be free if previous social constructs such as religion, race, cultural tradition, and ethnic roots were to continue to define a person's identity ? Given these challenges, a new construct was born: that of a civil society, where citizens were free to create a new sense of community and assume the responsibility to labor together and to solve their problems regardless of their diverse backgrounds.
In creating our democracy, the Founding Fathers were not perfect, nor did they pretend to be. They were neither gods nor angels, but rather complex, prejudiced, yet visionary men who dared to create this great experiment in human governance at the risk of losing their lives and possessions. They also they were in a race against time because window of opportunity to launch such an endeavor rarely comes in history and quickly closes.
With the aid of Providence, they took a leap of faith and devised this experimental machine we now know as the United States of America with the hope that each future generation of Americans would use this system of governance to help them advance the human condition. We are by no means perfect, but we must continue to build upon the foundation that our Founding Fathers laid for us over two hundred years ago and continue to move forward and adjust course as required. May God bless America!
Image via Pxhere.
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