So free we seem; so fettered fast we are.
- Robert Browning
Nothing so unites the liberal, government-centered Left with the conservative, limited-government Right as each sides cry that the other is tearing the country from its founders intent.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, Thomas Jefferson wrote in that famous, one-party document in 1776, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, (and) that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Today each party attempts to derive its just powers by declaring to the governed what that consent should be: more gun control to protect you, more tax money to support you, more regulations to restrain you, or more freedom for the governed to decide some things for themselves with no government interference at all.
Also today, in speeches like the following, many Americans are expressing fear that all parties of our over-legislating government are beginning to resemble that repressive monarchy the Founding Fathers rose up against 227 years ago:
Teachers are so conscious of litigation that even if they notice a students dysfunctional behavior they are afraid to report it.
Id like to hire you, but if I dont meet my racial, gender, ethnic quota.
Id like to give you permission to build, plant, sell, or use your own property as you wish, but you see, there's this new law.
If you are among those who wonder how many more freedoms our government will attempt to take away, perhaps it will make you feel better to hear about some of the laws the founders of Georgia enacted when they were in charge. (Source: Autobiography of a Colony, by Berry Fleming):
All males, aged 16 to 60, had to enroll in the Georgia Militia.
All roads were to be 24 feet wide, with trees left standing close to the road on each side. Fines were levied against anyone cutting down a tree within 10 feet of a roadway.
After Georgia was divided into parishes in 1758, it was against the law not to attend church. Be it enacted that inhabitants shall attend church on Sundays Once in the forenoon and once in the afternoon, at time of divine services, the church wardens and constables shall walk through the Town of Augusta and fine non-attendees 2 shillings 6 pence sterling for their absence.
Other restrictions, from tavern behavior to what kind of animals could be herded through town at what time of day, also found their way into Georgias early law books. One has the impression that these merchants, planters, new settlers, and a lawyer or two were so infatuated with their new leadership roles - or beset by their own pet peeves - that making laws for other people to obey was great fun. Today, as legislative sessions become longer and longer and the law books they produce grow weightier, I hope that isnt happening now.
My house was pretty and new 20 years ago. Today the roof needs attention, the carpet is worn, and the exterior needs another new coat of paint. I value my property and will tend to these repairs as finances allow.
Our countrys freedom was precious and new 227 years ago, and with some minor evidence of wear, the same is true today. However, the governed who value this priceless property would do well to guard that liberty which some, no matter how well-intentioned, attempt to take away.
(Barbara Seaborn is a local free-lance writer. E-mail comments to seabara@ aol.com.)
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.