The founding of America ushered in an era of human history marked by a quest for equality, justice and opportunity for all people. America’s unique contribution to the world, and it is certainly unique, is the belief that humanity is inherently dignified and that being human is a high and sacred station. The respect for life cultivated in this free Republic stems from its bedrock belief that our rights come, in the words of John F. Kennedy, “not from the generosity of the state, but from the Hand of God.” As such, our Nation flourished under limited government, precisely because we governed ourselves by God’s standards. In our time, however, the Ten Commandments have been replaced by 10,000 regulations. For freedom to flourish again, we must again adhere to the 10 so that the 10,000 are not necessary.
In the aftermath of the frauds committed by Enron and Tyco in the early part of the last decade, the Federal government sought to restore trust to the free market through regulation. In so doing, they treated the symptoms of an underlying syndrome, without doing anything to address the syndrome itself. The fraud committed by the CEOs and CFOs of these massive corporations wasn’t the result of lax regulations, but a lack of personal morality. Passing more and more regulations doesn’t remove the desire of corrupt executives to commit fraud; it just forces them to become more creative in committing it. What we need is a national conversation about ethics and values, and a reassertion of our founding principles of individual freedom within the context of concern for the community.
Classical republicanism, which was espoused by our Founders, is the concept that each of us exercises our God-given individual rights in a spirit of responsibility to our neighbors. For example, we are free individuals who have the opportunity to pursue economic success and plenty, but we must treat our employees and our customers with honesty and dignity. We have the freedom to pursue happiness, but our pursuit of happiness must be held in the context of caring about the hopes and aspirations of others. God designed man as a social being; therefore, community is necessary for society to succeed. In the absence of free individuals exercising their freedoms in the context of caring for others, government grows. Take, for example, welfare programs. There was a time in this Country where caring for “the least of these” was the responsibility of Churches and private communities. In our day, however, in the absence of private activism, the government has stepped in and botched the effort. Now, welfare isn’t a hand-up, it’s a hand-out.
If we are to restore freedom in America, we must restore a sense of private virtue in our citizens. When such a sense of virtue is restored, communities will come together to meet one another’s needs, thus alleviating the need for big government. This begins by affirming our National belief that our rights come from our Creator. Not just any “creator,” as there is only one, but the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the Bible. By making the conscious effort to learn the Ten Commandments, and to apply them to our daily lives, we can roll-back the overreach of big government and restore Constitutional liberty. In short, by adhering to the Ten we can get away from 10,000 regulations that have no hope of restraining a morally unrestrained people.