Shire Network News #136 has been released. The feature interview is with Dr. Mordechai Kedar, of the Arabic Department of Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv. While appearing recently on Al Jazeera talking about building apartments in Jerusalem, he decided not to take the role of a piñata as expected by the show’s host. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary.

Hi, this is Doug Payton for Shire Network News, asking you to "Consider This!"

With all due respect to the host of this show, who comes from the land we broke away from 232 years ago, I’m going to touch a bit on Independence Day in these United States. 

This quote from John Quincy Adams was brought to my attention recently.  He was writing to his wife Abigail about how he thought Independence Day would be celebrated in the years to come.

I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.

Well, we seem to have the pomp and parade, fireworks and barbeques down pat.  Some sporting events, like Atlanta’s Peachtree Road Race, are exclusively on July 4th.  But it’s this clinginess to guns and religion that one US presidential candidate would, no doubt, find beneath him.  Thanks to the Heller Supreme Court decision, it now appears that individuals can celebrate Independence Day, not just "well-regulated militias".

In the intervening years since Adams’ prediction, and indeed hope, America has been there to fight for freedom in other places as well.  Imagine that; a country strong enough and with the right frame of mind to consider more than just its own well-being, but the well-being of other nations.  The American "empire", if you want to call it that, has been unlike any other.  Instead of entering a country and annexing it or taking it over, we come in, get rid of the bad guys, and, instead of installing our own government in perpetuity, we install voting booths.  Granted, it’s not always been that way, and we have certainly made our share of mistakes, no doubt.  But on balance, compared to other nations of our size and strength throughout history, I believe we’ve been an overall force for good and liberty in the world. 

And, quite notably, very often with our former enemy, England, by our side.  If our Founding Father’s had been told that someday the US and the UK would be BFFs, they’d ROFL.  Well, if they did any text messaging.

And to sound so utterly un-PC — something which we major in on Shire Network News — I believe we are this force for good precisely because we cling to our guns and our religion.  The guns represent individual liberty and individual rights.  They show that we are willing to fight for our ourselves and for what we believe in; both individually and as a nation. 

But this nation also clings to its religion, and while there is the freedom to practice any or no religion, much of our foundational ideas came from Judeo-Christian principles, including, by the way, that religious freedom, as well as concern for others as much as oneself.  Clinging just to guns, without that religious component, would have made us no different than the Romans or the Huns or the Nazis.  But we have also gone into Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, western Europe, and yes, even Vietnam, with the purpose of holding back oppression in other countries.  We could just hunker down behind our borders, clinging to our guns, but there is more to being a good neighbor that just waiting for the bad guys to show up here.  No, we can’t police the world, that much is certain.  But there are things we can do. 

Again, it is true that we’ve not always kept those two things in their proper proportions, sometimes leaning more on the guns that we should.  But we do eventually return.

Thomas Jefferson was a guy that I would have some religious disagreements with.  But there is a quote from him on one of the walls of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC that I can buy into and, I think, brings this all together.  So, consider this:

And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever . . . ."

Happy Independence Day, all you Americans.  Cling to your guns if you will, but cling tighter to your religion.  Consider that.

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