To pervert something means to take a truth and twist it just a bit. It is an unusual word to use regarding government. One usually uses it in a religious or moral context. But it is a more than appropriate word to describe the descent of our once noble Republic – a descent that began as early as the Constitutional Convention.
This nation was birthed with the insightful words memorialized in our 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, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
These words inspired the genesis of perhaps the greatest country that every existed on the face of the earth. They are the words that rallied our troops to war to fight the world’s superpower of that day – and they are the words that drove our battered troops to persevere through the brutal winter at Valley Forge and onto victory in Trenton, NJ. They are the words that most believe represent the very core of America.
An early perversion
Two plus centuries later, these words still resonate within our souls but their meaning has been suffering degradation almost since their inception. The perversion began at the Constitutional Convention when our founders who wrote “all men are created equal” held onto their slaves. They also compromised this principle with the southern states, allowing slaves to be counted as 3/5 of a person to ensure ratification of the Constitution by the slave-rich states. Of course it was globally acceptable to own slaves back in 1776, but it was also globally acceptable to be a colony – something our founders abhorred. It took Civil War 89 years later to correct the perversion of slavery. Compromise always comes at a price and the nation paid the price in both blood and treasure to rectify the perversion of equality. Some could legitimately argue that the scars of slavery have struck another detrimental blow to the Republic in our most recent presidential election.
Perverting liberty today
Unfortunately, slavery isn’t the only perversion this country has struck against our foundational principles. Our right to life has suffered just as repulsive a perversion as slavery. We have made it easy to forget that governments are instituted among us to protect life by labeling the killing of the most innocent of our citizens as a mother’s choice. They conveniently have forgotten that protecting life isn’t a choice; it is a moral obligation of both government and individuals.
Signing of the Declaration of Independence.
What about our right to liberty? The perversion in this area is not as glaring as in the other two aforementioned cases but it exists never-the-less. In our desire to be safe and secure, we have willing sacrificed many of our liberties in the process. The most recent example would be the Patriot Act. However well-intentioned the Patriot Act may appear, it compromises our privacy and hence affects our liberties. Protection, safety, and security are the most hallowed words in the movement to pervert liberty.
Our pursuit of happiness is not exempt from the monstrous perversion machine. Government, promising to care for all our needs has harnessed our ability to work and enjoy the fruits of our own labor. Words like “social justice” have replaced the concept of the biblical work ethic. Churches that preach it is righteous to take from those who make to give to those who take have partnered with government to violate our god-given right to pursue happiness. Not only have these churches perverted our god-given right to pursue happiness, they have perverted the true meaning of charity and the 10th Commandment as well that tells us we should not covet anything our neighbor owns.
Can America last?
Perhaps sinful man can never live up to the ideals represented in our Declaration of Independence but we were a better people when we at least tried. If the last presidential election is a glimpse into our future, we won’t have to worry about perverting the words in our Declaration for much longer. While the pundits debate whether or not America will fall off a financial cliff; cliff or no cliff, the real America – the land of the free and the home of the brave – will simply cease to exist. It was a great country while it lasted.