Americans distinctively thrive under our Bill of Rights
Most Americans probably don’t realize how unique are their individual rights, compared to people living under other governments.
Our Founding Fathers, in all their inspired wisdom, gave early Americans more rights than previously had any government anywhere in the world. Those same rights, often multiplied in some ways, remain a cornerstone of living in the United States and go a long way in defining what it is to be an American.
They are easily identified in our Bill of Rights.
Perhaps the most far reaching of our rights is found in the first amendment to the Constitution. Those 46 words of this amendment are mighty in several ways.
First, let the words of the First Amendment ring out themselves:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
We need to be aware of those words all the time.
The significant aspect is that these words have benefitted Americans since December 15, 1791, when Virginia became the 10th state to ratify the Bill of Rights, making them the law of the land.
So, Americans for nearly 250 years have enjoyed these freedoms. And I am persuaded that the very adoption of the Bill of Rights, and living under them all these years, has caused Americans to be distinctive from citizens of other nations. The American citizen knows and enjoys the freedoms expressed in these Bill of Rights. And because of these rights, he has thrived, innovated and grown, sometimes even taking on the government, as is his right, when he feels the government is not acting as it should.
Citizens of other nations are no doubt much more timid in their approach to their governments. After all, they are not armed with the rights that Americans have.
The concept of a free press, you note, is in the very first of these Bills of Rights. Look at all it gives our citizens: freedom of religion, and of exercising it; freedom of speech, and of the press, to assemble when they want, and to sue the government if a citizen has a beef with the government.
Wow! What great freedoms this gives us, that people of other nations do not enjoy.
Sometimes these freedoms produce actions that startle us. Even today’s much-discussed governmental leaks derive from our freedoms. After all, being free citizens allows people to take a different view sometimes from the way the government is acting. And if these people see something amiss, their backgrounds tell them this is not right, and they seek means to make these hidden actions made public.
Leaks about our government have been around for ages. They protect our citizens by making questionable governmental acts public, exposing shoddy actions, and protecting our citizens.
The most interesting aspect is that these leaks often come from average citizens, who recognize something amiss, and improves our nation by putting these secrets forward for open discussion.
No other nation enjoys the protection like our Constitution give us. These freedoms express themselves in many different ways, as our citizens live under the protection of the Constitution.
It’s something no other nation has, and is part of what makes the United States great.
Enjoy them as you thrive.
- Editor's Note: This story originally appeared at GwinnettForum.com. Image: George Washington addresses the Constitutional Convention in 1787 (public domain).