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July 4th, 2017:“Personal Freedom, Local Loyalties.”
I’ve been reading “Born Fighting” by James Webb, a look back at the history of Scots-Irish migration to, and contributions to America. As “Hugh McPherson”, you can’t get much more Scots-Irish that that, I was intrigued to learn more about my family’s heritage.
On this July 4th, I’ll share just 3 key ideas from the book that I believe apply to all of us, not only the Scots-Irish McPhersons, living in the greatest nation, not only in the world, but in history. These are the tent-poles of America’s success:
- Religious freedom. My ancestors were Scottish Presbyterians. Today, no one thinks of Presbyterians as a anything special or weird, but to the Catholic church and later the Anglican church, they were heretics to be persecuted. America is built upon, and today we must not lose sight of, the value of freedom of religion. Intolerance spawned battle upon battle in Scotland, Ireland and Great Britain splitting the [then] greatest country in the world. Let us not do it again, today.
- Personal freedom and a healthy distrust of government. The Scots were embroiled in an endless series of battles and wars. Emperor & King worked to subjugate Scotland all the way back to the time of the Romans. As a result, clan and family loyalties ran true and deep. No Scotsman trusted any government because every government had tried to enslave the Scots. We, too, need to have a strong, free press, a healthy distrust for government and resist the government’s control in our personal lives and choices today.
- Local loyalty. As the hard-bitten Scots-Irish, and many other immigrants, pushed ever-forward into the frontier lands, there were no services, often no towns and few roads. Families and neighbors had to stick together, work together and defend one another to survive in the harsh, untamed wilderness that was slowly becoming America. A decree from a far-off county seat was meaningless if you didn’t have enough food to make it through winter. Local loyalty, community, agriculture and a whole lot of faith built this country, one perilous inch at a time.
On this momentous celebration of our official Declaration of Independence, I hope you look both forward to the bright future that is surely possible, and back to the past events that have shaped this nation.
America has most certainly not gotten it right every time, but only America offers unparalleled opportunity to try, to fail, to succeed, to learn and to grow.
So, practice your religion freely, and let others do so as well.
Exercise the personal freedom to build your life in such a way as to shine light into the lives of others.
Maintain a healthy distrust of government and resist efforts to be controlled by central authority.
Work in your local community, buy from local farmers, run for local office and actively participate in America; this grandest of experiments, a beacon on a hill, whose wick was lit 240 years ago by the fire in those patriots yearning to be free.
Live freely, and God Bless America!