At a time when disregard of the value and meaning of country is at a low, Memorial Day is a good occasion to remember why we should remember and memorialize certain segments of our community. A country is a community of people within a set of geographic boundaries. It is a fundamental human unit of government at this point in our history. Countries and their governments should exist for one purpose–to allow for a better quality of life for citizens and a greater fulfillment of their individual, self-determined destinies. Unfortunately, throughout human history, governments have more often served as a vehicle for one person or small group of people to impose their will upon the broader populace. When we remember those who fought and died to protect our country, they were fighting to preserve a free way of life, not just for us, but unusually in the case of the United States, to protect the freedom of others. The stirring words of our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, should be read every day, by every citizen, so that we remember what is so important about this country and its role for humanity:
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.
And it isn’t just what they are fighting for, it is what they were fighting against. They most often fought against those authoritarian governments that claiming to act in the best interest of people, really existed only to advance the aims and well-being of those few in the ruling cabal. That fight can find no better expression than in the words of Milton and Rose Friedman, which have special resonance in our country today:
A society that puts equality–in the sense of equality of outcome–ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.
I don’t agree that the force is introduced for good purposes, it is introduced for selfish personal gain, but no better description of the goal and inevitable true driving force of communism, socialism, Black Lives (don’t) Matter, white liberal progressiveness and other isms can be found and it is always worth fighting to the last person against the hell that inevitably accompanies any of these becoming the government in a country. Not here must be our motive. We won’t let the few determine the lives of all.