America Is Built On Self-Reliance, Not Selfishness

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Posted: Oct 25, 2018 11:20 AM
America Is Built On Self-Reliance, Not Selfishness

At Disney World’s Epcot America pavilion in the show called The American Adventure, the animatronic Benjamin Franklin makes the statement, “Pride is one of our national passions.  Even those who overcome it are proud of their humility!”  America is built upon individualism – not selfish and greedy, but self-determination and self-reliance.  Political commentator Michael Medved stated, “’Rugged individualism’ never meant isolation from neighbors, family, or fellow congregants…America has always been a compassionate society, finding various means…to provide help to those who required it.”[1]  Economist Friedrich Hayek wrote, taking from the ideas of Lord Action and Tocqueville, “that democratic ideas spring from the basic principles of individualism.”[2]  This vision within American Exceptionalism is often referred to as the American Dream.[3]  The American Dream was the vision set by our Founders, the Original Intent, and it was directly articulated in our founding document, The Declaration of Independence.

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[4]

That famous phrase, from the Declaration of Independence, is the American Dream articulated from our nation’s birth.  It holds that God, and only God, decrees upon each one of us specific rights, gifted upon each of us by Him.  That phrase declares our independent relationship with God, and His one-on-one gift to each of us – we each are equally gifted by Him.  We may forget, sway, or lessen our relationship with God while pursuing the American Dream, but He never lessens His gift and Love for us – we being His special creation.  This is exactly why Christ was sent to redeem us and allow us to build our relationship with God through our relationship with Christ, and learn and leverage our gifts – that is, individualism – from Him.  Then, when we pursue our lives with these gifts in a God-centered manner (since they are from Him), we thrive, grow and learn.  “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”[5]

Alexis de Tocqueville witnessed this self-determination and found it the exception to any other nation; writing, “Every one the best judge of his own interest – Corollary of the principle of the sovereignty of the people…every individual possesses an equal share of power.”[6]

Our Founders intimately knew and understood this.  God made us what we are so when we live our lives through Him and focus on Him there is nothing but great promise ahead.  This is the American Dream contained within American Exceptionalism.  A move away from the American Dream is a move away from God and His vision and gifts for us.  This is the very reason the collectivist-statist feels the need to destroy God and replace him with the State.

Founding Father James Otis articulated the sovereignty of the individual and the connection to God best in 1764 when he stated, “I say this supreme absolute power is originally and ultimately in the people; and they never did in fact freely, nor can they rightfully make an absolute, unlimited renunciation of this divine right…but directly to Heaven…Tyranny of all kinds is to be abhorred.”  Otis goes on to connection our Fundamental Rights to Natural Law by declaring, “That civil government is of God…There must be in every instance, a higher authority, viz. God…The supreme power in a state…belongs alone to God…his natural laws, which are immutably true, their declaration would be contrary to eternal truth, equity and justice, and consequently void.”[7]  Our rights are absolute, just, righteous, fundamental, and inherent-of and from God, without exception.

[1] Michael Medved, October 24, 2007, “How Government Expansion Worsens Hard Times,” townhall.com, [http://townhall.com/columnists/michaelmedved/2007/10/24/how_government_expansion_worsens_hard_times/page/full/].

[2] Friedrich A. Hayek, 2009 (Originally published in 1948), Individualism and Economic Order, “Individualism: True and False,”1945, (Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute), p. 29.

[3] The term “American Dream” originated from James Truslow Adams in his book, The Epic of America.  See James Truslow Adams, 1931, The Epic of America, (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company).  Adams defines the American Dream in his Preface as “a better, richer, and happier life for all our citizens of every rank which is the greatest contribution we have as yet made to the thought and welfare of the world.”

[4] This phrase was a modification from the Virginia Constitution was articulated by Life, Liberty and Property.  It was modified to the “pursuit of Happiness” which included not just sovereignty of property but sovereignty of one’s own body, mind, thoughts, and ideas.  The Virginia Declaration of Rights, June 12, 1776: “That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”

[5] Guideposts, The Guideposts Parallel Bible (Carmel, NY: Guideposts), New International, Psalms 32:8, p. 1418.

[6] Alexis de Tocqueville, 2007 (originally published in 1835 and 1840), Democracy in America, Volumes 1 and 2, Unabridged, (Stilwell, KS: Digireads.com Publishing), p. 54.

[7] James Otis, 1764, “The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved.”  Referenced from Jack P. Greene, ed., 1975, Colonies to Nation 1763-1789:  A Documentary History of the American Revolution, (New York, NY: Norton & Company), pp. 28-33.