Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Vision of America's Founders

Say what you will about America's Founders, the men had incredible vision. It's no small thing to start a new nation. Yet, that's precisely what they did. Critics of the Founders allege that that these men more or less stumbled into a war for independence, driven primarily (some of the more extreme critics say "solely") by their selfish, economic interests. Contrary to what these critics argue, the heart of the American Revolution was not greed, but rather a vision for freedom and liberty.

I'm not so naive as to suggest that personal interests had no bearing on the American Revolution. Personal interests have played a role in all of history's conflicts and great movements. The Founding Fathers were quite realistic about the nature of human beings. George Washington once observed: "Few men have virtue enough to withstand the highest bidder." And James Madison explained that "if men were angels, no government would be necessary." Human beings are, by nature, flawed and self-centered. The Bible, a book that all of America's Founders were familiar with, teaches that we are all sinners fallen short of a holy God (Romans 3:23).

The genius of the United States of America is not that our nation is free of sin, greed, or corruption. No nation is free of those things. The genius of our Founders and the greatness of our nation rests on the fact that it carefully "checks" and "balances" the selfish and competing interests of its people, while challenging us to aspire to noble ideals and principles.

There is no nation in the world quite like the United States. Flawed? Definitely. Perfect? Far from it. But it is a nation whose underpinnings and institutions encourage the very best in its people and constantly call its citizens to greatness. There is much we can learn from the vision of those who built America and shaped it for a great destiny.