Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool

Thoughts for December 2009

By Tim Rudd
Clermont County Republican Party Chairperson

Mankind often misses the most momentous events happening amongst us and history teaches us that this is the rule rather than the exception. Somewhere around two thousand years ago one of those events occurred. A simple birth little noticed at the time except we are told by an anxious king, three wise men, a host of angels and a few shepherds.

Birth, a simple act which occurs daily, whose prodigy when reaching adulthood would admonish us with one additional commandment, simple and straight forward, that we love one another as He had loved us. His death would turn an old religion meant for a chosen few into a revealed religion for the multitudes.

As Christianity spread throughout the Greco-Roman world and later to all corners of the globe it would transform western civilization as we know it. The parent Judaic religion had a deep respect for the law so the same respect would become a cornerstone for the new religion. As the new religion’s teachings spread throughout society it was only a matter of time that the teaching from the admonishment, the additional commandment, would lead to new ideas.

Old ideas from Greek democracies infused with new ideas from Christianity would lead directly to the Scot-Irish-English Enlightenment and new ideas such as the rights of man and natural law. The Enlightenment in turn would lead to the most beautiful sentence originally written in North America:

“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…”

As it became apparent to our Founding Fathers that the Articles of Confederation were inadequate for governing a new nation, they set about drafting a Constitution, a static document not only instituting a government but also limiting its powers.

As Madison put it in Federalist Number 51; “If men were angels, no government would be necessary….In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself”.

Our Constitution and the accompanying Bill of Rights accomplishes Madison’s ideal by not only creating a government but at the same time limiting its power. You will find as many “shall not’s” or infringements on the central government powers in our founding documents as grants of power. Those infringements ensure our freedoms would hold so dearly: freedom of religion, of speech, of assembly, the right to bear arms, the right to be secure in our homes, the right to own private property.

The Founders realized and time has proven that only a free people making free choices with a limited government would lead to prosperity unknown before to mankind.  All of this from an “insignificant” momentous act approximately two thousand years ago and one additional commandment: Love one another. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!