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Glenn McGettigan

Glenn McGettigan

01 Jul. 2008

Transcript

Our Title of Liberty

In 1833, the Saints in Missouri were experiencing much persecution.  They had been driven from their homes in Jackson County, many had lost livestock and furniture, and they had received many death threats.  On December 16, the Prophet, hundreds of miles away in Kirtland Ohio, received a revelation on their behalf. It is found in the 101st Section of the Doctrine and Covenants.
 
D&C 101:76-80
 
76  And again I say unto you, those who have been scattered by their enemies, it is my will that they should continue to importune for redress, and redemption, by the hands of those who are placed as rulers and are in authority over you –
77  According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;
78  That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.
79  Therefore it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.
80  And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.
 
In spite of the considerable persecution endured by the early saints, there was no other place better prepared than America.  Here a land had been preserved, a people prepared, and laws established such that the Gospel could be restored.   America was foreordained as the place for the restoration of the Gospel. 
 
When the prophet was born, in 1805, America was but 29 years old.  Thomas Jefferson was serving as our third President.  The Constitution, ratified in 1788, had been the law of the land for 17 years.
 
Constitution - A Prerequisite for Restoration of Gospel - First Amendment
 
The first amendment of The Bill of Rights, which had been the law of the land for just 15 years guaranteed that…
 
“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”
 
Each of these rights contained in the first amendment was necessary in order for the Gospel to be restored:
 
Obviously, freedom of religion was necessary.
Freedom of speech was necessary in order that the gospel might be preached.
Freedom of the press was necessary so that the Book of Mormon could be published.
Freedom peaceably to assemble was necessary in order to organize the church and to conduct church meetings.
And petitioning the government for a redress of grievances was precisely what the Lord was instructing the saints to do.
 
The Lords Purpose of the Constitution
 
The Constitution clearly provided the necessary legal environment for the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  However, in establishing the Constitution, the Lord states His purposes much more broadly.  Specifically He said:
 
“For this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land:
For the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles
That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him
That every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment
It is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another”
 
The Declaration of Independence (History)
 
The Lord said that He “established the Constitution of this land;” and that He did it “by the hands of wise men” and that they were “raised up unto this very purpose.”
 
President Woodruff declared that “those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men. General Washington and all the men who labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord.” (Conference Report, April 1898, p. 89.)
 
Thomas Jefferson, as a youth, had a voracious appetite for learning.  He wanted to read the classics in their original language, so he learned to read both Latin and Greek.  He entered college at the age of 16 as an advanced student, and graduated at the age of 19.  He developed a close relationship with several renowned men of science and law, including his mentor, George Wythe, the first law professor in America.  His study habits were 14 hours or more per day, with the only break being a run in the evening.  He was one of the most broadly educated men who ever lived.  He spoke seven languages and was well studied in every discipline imaginable - math, science, politics, chemistry, philosophy, anatomy, religion, agriculture, and so on.
 
On May 29, 1765, Thomas Jefferson heard a passionate oration against the Stamp Act in the House of Burgesses.  It was Patrick Henry, when he said, “If this be treason, make the most of it.”  Jefferson said that this ignited in him a burning desire for the cause of freedom which never dimmed throughout his life.  And he would later call this as the most important day of his life.  It led him to a life-long study of the history of man’s efforts to set up a free society.  In the process of this study, he collected a library of over a thousand books.  Later, the United States government would purchase this library which would form the beginnings of the United States Library of Congress.
 
Over the next decade, the relationship between King George III, Parliament and the colonists deteriorated to the point that reconciliation was nearly impossible.  In early 1776, King George announced that if America were attacked, Great Britain would not come to her aid. In fact, American ships were to be considered “free booty,” that is, the British navy could capture and keep any American vessel and cargo, and force the crew into the British navy.
 
In May of 1776 Thomas Jefferson was sent as a delegate from Virginia to the Second Continental Congress.  They met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in what we now call, Independence Hall, in the Assembly room.  This was where, one year earlier, George Washington had been appointed commander in chief of the Continental Army, and it would be where the constitution would be signed, 11 years later.
 
During the previous several months Thomas Jefferson had been working on a constitution for the state of Virginia.  He had brought his third draft of it with him to Philadelphia.  And in fact he asked permission to be released from attending this congress so that he could return to Virginia to help write his state’s constitution.  Fortunately, his request was declined.
 
On June 7, 1776, during the Second Continental Congress, Richard Henry Lee, introduced a resolution that would put in motion a series of events that would change the world:
 
“Resolved: That these colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states, that they are absolved of all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.  That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.  That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective colonies for their consideration and approbation.”
 
This was a pinnacle moment for America.  Although some colonies were prepared to declare independence, others were not; and so there ensued considerable discussion which lasted for several days.
 
By June 11, still no decision had been made.  It was decided that a committee should be formed to draft a formal declaration of independence.  Congress would then reconvene to discuss it.  The committee was made up of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, (also, not pictured, were Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston).  The other four men wanted Thomas Jefferson to do it.  Thomas Jefferson did so and presented it to congress, 17 days later, on Friday, June 28.
 
The majority of the declaration of independence is a list of grievances against King George.  And these were taken directly from Thomas Jefferson’s latest draft of the Virginia Constitution which he had with him.  The last paragraph was made up in part by the earlier resolution put forth by Mr. Lee.  So, Thomas Jefferson spent two weeks writing 2 ½ paragraphs.  After two years of study and preparation, he would distill the rights of man and their origin into a few well written, divinely inspired, sentences.
 
On Monday, July 1 Congress recommenced their discussion.  Ten colony’s delegations were prepared to sign it.  Pennsylvania voted against it.  Delaware had only two delegates present, and they were divided.  The New York delegation said that they themselves were in favor of the resolution and they were confident that their constituents were for it as well; however, their most recent instructions, received 12 months earlier, were to seek reconciliation with Great Britain.  And so they abstained from voting.  Thus, the decision was postponed until the next day.
           
On July 2 a third delegate from Delaware arrived, making it in favor of independence.  And, in the mean time, Pennsylvania had changed their vote to in favor.  Now, only the New York delegation abstained, but in a few days, they too would agree to sign.
 
The remainder of July 2-4 was spent discussing and altering the document drafted by Thomas Jefferson.  Most of the changes had to do with the grievances.  There were only two minor changes to the first two paragraphs.
 
The last sentence of the Declaration of Independence reads, “And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor”.  This was literally the case.  If they failed in the coming struggle for independence, their signatures on the bottom of this document would result in their conviction for high treason, which demanded an ignominious death penalty. They would be hanged by the head until unconscious.  Then cut down and revived.  Then disemboweled, beheaded, and cut into quarters.  Each quarter would then be boiled in oil, and the remains would be scattered abroad.   Thus, there would be no final resting place to honor or remember them.
 
Legend of The Declaration of Independence
 
When Ronald Reagan was president, he gave a 4th of July speech in 1981 that relates a legend about the events that occurred on that day in 1776, when the moment came for the delegates to actually sign the Declaration of Independence.  I don’t know how accurate or true it is, but it is a great story, and Ronald Reagan tells it very well.
 
“There is a legend about the day of our nation's birth in the little hall in Philadelphia, a day on which debate had raged for hours. The men gathered there were honorable men hard-pressed by a king who had flouted the very laws they were willing to obey. Even so, to sign the Declaration of Independence was such an irretrievable act that the walls resounded with the words "treason, the gallows, the headsman's axe," and the issue remained in doubt.
 
The legend says that at that point a man rose and spoke. He is described as not a young man, but one who had to summon all his energy for an impassioned plea. He cited the grievances that had brought them to this moment and finally, his voice falling, he said, "They may turn every tree into a gallows, every hole into a grave, and yet the words of that parchment can never die. To the mechanic in the workshop, they will speak hope; to the slave in the mines, freedom. Sign that parchment. Sign if the next moment the noose is around your neck, for that parchment will be the textbook of freedom, the Bible of the rights of man forever."
 
He fell back exhausted. The 56 delegates, swept up by his eloquence, rushed forward and signed that document destined to be as immortal as a work of man can be. When they turned to thank him for his timely oratory, he was not to be found, nor could any be found who knew who he was or how he had come in or gone out through the locked and guarded doors.”
 
The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4 by every member present (except John Dickenson).  The working copy was sent to the printer.  An engrossed copy was prepared (that is, rewritten in large calligraphy on parchment) and that copy was signed later, on August 2, and it is the copy that now resides in the national archives.  The Declaration was first published on July 6th by the Pennsylvania Evening Post.  On July 8th it was publicly read to the local community of Philadelphia, and the people celebrated all night.  Two hundred copies (excluding the signatures) were printed and distributed for public reading throughout the colonies.
 
Declaration of Independence (Content)
 
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
 
“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; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,--That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
 
“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.  But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
 
President Benson, in the October 1976 General Conference said, “The Declaration of Independence to which these great men affixed their signatures is much more than a political document.  It constitutes a spiritual manifesto—revelation, if you will—declaring not for this nation only, but for all nations, the source of man’s rights.”
 
The Declaration of Independence contains what I believe to be our latter day Title of Liberty, a manifesto of freedom for all nations.  It was the banner under which the colonists rallied in their fight for independence, and in their struggle to establish a new democratic republic; one that would originate in America and then spread throughout the world.
 
If you are inclined to commit to memory any of the words of our founding fathers, let it be these two sentences, starting with, “We hold these truths to be self evident”.  These are the basic principles upon which this country was founded and upon which freedom and liberty everywhere are built.  They are like the articles of faith for a free people.
 
Let’s look at these two sentences.
 
“That all men are created equal”
 
That is not to say that all men are equal in their abilities, nor in their efforts, nor in the outcomes they receive for their efforts.  They are, however, equal in the eyes of the law.  Our founding fathers rejected the idea of “the divine right of kings” and of “hereditary succession,” whereby men are treated unequally.  Under a monarchy, the King is law.  Under common law, however, the people make the laws, and all are equally bound by the law.
 
In February of 1776, Five months prior to the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Paine, a contemporary political philosopher and writer, openly challenged the authority of the British government.  In a pamphlet titled, “Common Sense”, he debunked the whole notion of government by Kings, and called for immediate independence from Great Britain.  This pamphlet was broadly read by the colonists and had a tremendous influence on their decision to seek independence and to establish a new form of government.
 
If you think that the early colonists were not an intelligent, literate people consider what they read - the Bible and pamphlets such as “Common Sense.”  From it we read…
 
“Mankind being originally equals in the order of creation, the equality could only be destroyed by some subsequent circumstance.  The distinction of men into KINGS and SUBJECTS is a great distinction for which no truly natural or religious reason can be assigned.  Male and Female are the distinctions of nature, good and bad the distinctions of Heaven; but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species, is worth inquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness or of misery to mankind.
 
“In the early ages of the world, according to the scripture chronology there were no kings.  Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens, from whom the children of Israel copied the custom.  It was the most prosperous invention the Devil ever set on foot for the promotion of idolatry.
 
“As the exalting one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the authority of scripture; for the will of the Almighty as declared by Gideon and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of government by Kings”
 
If you have your scriptures, please turn to 1 Samuel, Chapter 8.
 
Some of our founding father’s were Christian; however, many were Diests, that is, they were well read in the scriptures and believed in God the Father as our Creator, but they did not necessarily belong to an organized church.  But this should not be surprising.  The gospel was not on the earth.  Our founding fathers were laying the ground work for the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In addition, they had seen how some other Christian religions had been used to distort truths found in the Bible and to oppress man.
 
It is interesting to note that in the writings of our founding fathers, when referring to God, they would rarely use the word “God.”   Instead they would use a description like Creator, nature, nature’s God, Supreme Judge of the world, or divine Providence.  Notice the usage of capitalization in these descriptions.  Every one of these examples is found in the Declaration of Independence.
 
1 Samuel, Chapter 8, starting in verse 5.  While you are following along, I will read from Thomas Paine’s, “Common Sense” pamphlet, so that you can hear his occasional commentary on these scriptures:
 
“The hankering which the Jews had for the idolatrous customs of the Heathens, is something exceedingly unaccountable; but so it was, that laying hold of the misconduct of Samuel’s two sons, who were entrusted with some secular concerns, they came in an abrupt and clamorous manner to Samuel saying,
 
(5) “Behold thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways, now make us a king to judge us like all the other nations.”  And here we cannot observe but that their motives were bad. viz. that they be LIKE unto other nations, i.e. the Heathens, whereas their true glory lay in being as much UNLIKE them as possible.
 
(6) “But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, give us a King to judge us; and Samuel prayed unto the Lord,
 
(7) And the Lord said unto Samuel, hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee, for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, THAT I SHOULD NOT REIGN OVER THEM.
 
 (8) According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other Gods: so do they also unto thee.
 
 (9) Now therefore hearken unto their voice, howbeit, protest solemnly unto them the manner of the King that shall reign over them.”  i.e. not any particular King, but the general manner of Kings of the earth whom Israel was so eagerly copying after.  And notwithstanding the great distance of time and difference of manners the character is still in fashion.
 
(10) “And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people, that asked of him a King. 
 
(11) And he said, This shall be the manner of the King that shall reign over you.  He will take your sons and appoint them for himself for his chariots and to be his horsemen, and some shall run before his chariots” (this description agrees with the present mode of impressing men)
 
(12) “and he will appoint him captains over thousands and captains over fifties, will set them to clear his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots,
 
(13) And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers” (this describes the expense and luxury as well as the oppression of Kings)
 
 (14) “and he will take your fields and your vineyards, and your olive yards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
 
(15) And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give them to his officers and to his servants” (by which we see that bribery, corruption, and favoritism are the standing devices of Kings)
 
(16) “and he will take your men servants, and your maid servants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work:
 
 (17) and he will take the tenth of your sheep, and ye shall be his servants,
 
(18) and ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen, AND THE LORD WILL NOT HEAR YOU IN THAT DAY.”  This accounts for the continuation of Monarchy.
 
(19) “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel, and they said, Nay, but we will have a king over us,
 
(20) That we may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.”
 
“That the Almighty hath here entered his protest against monarchical government is true, or the scripture is false.” – Thomas Paine.
 
Have you ever wondered - Why would anyone choose to have a king?  Why did the Israelites persist in asking for a King?  Especially after the Lord, through His prophet, had told them explicitly what the terrible consequences would be if their request was granted.  Didn’t the people want liberty?
 
Regarding this incident in the Old Testament, Dr. Cleon Skousen said, “Self government is always a dynamic and volatile affair.  It takes initiative and patience, forcefulness and restraint.  But the Lord knows it is the only system under which men can “go to their place in peace.”  As Thomas Jefferson said, “Liberty is a boisterous sea.  Timid men prefer the calm of despotism.’
 
“What makes men to timid too govern themselves?  What make them reach for a monarchy, despotism or tyranny, which will cost them their freedom?  Usually it is because they were using a bad system of government or had corrupted a good one.  In Samuel’s day it was the latter.”
 
“That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights;”
 
It is important for us to understand where our rights come from, and where they do not come from.  Our unalienable rights come from God, they do not come from government or other men.  That is why they are unalienable.  And since they come from God, no man or government is justified in taking these rights away.
 
Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7:32 
 
“The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold, these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden gave I unto man his agency”
 
President Ezra Taft Benson said, “Rights are either God-given as part of the Divine Plan, or they are granted by government as part of the political plan.  Reason, necessity, tradition and religious convictions all lead me to accept the divine origin of these rights. If we accept the premise that human rights are granted by government, then we must be willing to accept the corollary that they can be denied by government. I, for one, shall never accept that premise.”
 
“That among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
 
Every person has the right to life, the right to act, and the right to pursue their own happiness and welfare.  Since much of our life is spent laboring for the necessities and property to maintain and enhance the welfare of our families, property rights are an important aspect of man’s pursuit of happiness.
 
In the October 1962 General Conference, President David O. McKay said, “We must recognize that property rights are essential to human liberty.”  He then quoted U.S. Supreme Court justice, George Sutherland as follows:
 
“Property, per se has no rights; but the individual – the man – has three great rights, equally sacred from arbitrary interference; the RIGHT TO HIS LIFE, the RIGHT TO HIS LIBERTY, and the RIGHT TO HIS PROPERTY.  The three rights are so bound together as to be essentially ONE right.  To give a man his life, but deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes life worth living.  To give him liberty but take from him the property, which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.”
 
Implicit in these rights is the corresponding responsibility to respect the life, liberty, and property of all other people.  You are free to swing your fist as much as you want, as long as it doesn’t come in contact with anyone else’s nose.
 
The Doctrine and Covenants states, “We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life” (D&C 134:2).
 
“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,”
 
In any society there are those who would harm others, or deprive them of life, liberty, or property.  The proper role of government is to protect the God given rights of its citizens,  like an umbrella.
 
Another major publication to come out in 1776 was Adam Smith’s, “The Wealth of Nations.”  In it he explained how free enterprise was the key to the economic wealth of all nations.  And he concluded that government should be limited to three functions.
 
“According to the system of natural liberty the sovereign has only three duties to attend to; … First, the duty of protecting the society from the violence and invasion of other independent societies; Secondly, the duty of protecting, as far as possible, every member of the society from the injustice or oppression of every other member of it, or the duty of establishing an exact administration of justice; and Thirdly, the duty of erecting and maintaining certain public works, and certain public institutions…”
 
“Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”
 
All power resides in the people.   And as a principle of righteousness God holds man accountable for his government.
 
D&C 134:1  We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.
 
The Constitution
 
The Declaration of Independence would be followed by seven more years of war, and then five more precarious year of civil unrest and indecision before the Constitution would be written and subsequently ratified by the sustaining voice of the people.  Whereas the Declaration of Independence declares the basic truths and values which we believe, and is our Title of Liberty, the Constitution contains the laws and political structure by which this title of liberty is maintained.
 
The Constitution, and its adjoining 27 amendments, including the Bill of Rights forms the foundation upon which our rights, expressed in the Declaration of Independence, are preserved.  Our founding fathers devised an amazing system which horizontally separates the powers of the federal government between the three branches of government : Legislative, Executive, and Judicial.  This separation of power minimizes the opportunity for abuse.
 
Power is further separate vertically between the Federal Government and the States.  Powers held by the Federal Government are limited and specifically defined, and all remaining powers “are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people” (Amendment 10).
 
Ultimately, all power resides and originates in the voice of the people and is returned to the people on a regular basis.  The Executive branch lose their jobs every four years, and they are subsequently replaced by the voice of the people.  The Legislature is likewise replaced every two years in the House, and one third of the Senate every two years.  Judges, although a life time appointment, are selected by representatives who are elected by the voice of the people.  Finally, the Constitution and any of the amendments may be changed when two-thirds of the legislature or the states desire it and it is ratified by three-fourths of the states.
 
Senator Orrin Hatch said, “The Founders were not custom-building the Constitution for any particular age or economy.  They were structuring a framework of government to fit the requirements of human nature.   These do not change.  What protected the freedom of George Washington will protect freedom for you and me.”
 
Government Is Force
 
George Washington said, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence – it is force!  Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”
 
In a republic, government is the means by which we collectivize the power of all citizens, and place that power with government.  We then authorize government to use that power to force people to do what they would otherwise not do, and to stop them from doing what they otherwise would do.
 
Government forces people to obey the law by threatening to take away one or more of their God given rights – that is, by taking away their property, their liberty, or their life – if they disobey the law.  If you refuse to pay your taxes, you will eventually have your property confiscated, and you may end up going to jail.  This is why people sometimes get upset when they talk about politics, because it is basically a discussion about what we as a society will or won’t force people to do, and people naturally and rightfully resent being forced.
 
In a republic, we, the people, collectively have the power.  Therefore, the question each of us must ask ourselves is, When is it right to use government power to force people?  The answer to this question may not be so easy, but it is important because it will direct our decision when voting for or against various candidates and propositions.  And the Lord has given us excellent guidance in the 98th section of the Doctrine and Covenants.
 
D&C 98:4-7
 
4  “…verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.”
5  “And that law of the land which is constitutional , supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.”
6  “Therefore, I the Lord, justify you and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;”
7  “And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this cometh of evil.”
 
D&C 98:10
 
“Honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.”
 
Since the power is in the hands of “we the people,” then “we the people” are the guardians for one another’s unalienable rights.  If a person votes contrary to their answer to this question, they are violating their own sense of right and wrong.  And the temptation to vote for people and policies that provide one with personal economic or political advantage but which violate the rights of others is very strong.  The Lord said…
 
D&C 121:39-40
 
“We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.  Hence many are called, but few are chosen.”
We should try to adopt the motives of our founding fathers.  Regarding the constitutional convention of 1787, James Madison wrote “There never was an assembly of men, charged with a great and arduous trust, who were more pure in their motives, or more exclusively or anxiously devoted to the object committed to them.”
 
Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize-winning Economist
 
Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning Economist, has written a number of books, one of which is titled, “Free to Choose – The Classic Inquiry Into the Relationship between Freedom and Economics.”   While I was attending BYU, I had the opportunity of attending a forum where he spoke.  He said…
 
“In the market place, if 49% of the people want yellow ties and 51% of the people want green ties, everybody gets what they want - 49% get yellow ties and 51% get green ties.  However, when the government provides the ties, then we vote on it, and the majority rules.  Everyone gets green ties.  Forty-nine percent of the people don’t get what they want, and the ties cost twice as much.”  He was suggesting that the solutions to societies needs are solved more equitably and more efficiently by the market place than by government.
 
The power of free enterprise, formally introduced by Adam Smith in 1776, was adopted by our founding fathers.  Although they called it part of “the great experiment” of democracy, I would say that it was part of our Heavenly Father’s plan from the beginning.
 
The economic prosperity and scientific discoveries created from free enterprise and democracy in the United States took the world from the horse-and-buggy days of 1776 to man-on-the-moon in less than 200 years, far surpassing the growth of all other nations of the prior 5,000 years combined.
 
Since then, other countries have copied the formula for success which is found in our Constitution.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “The United States Constitution was the first written constitution in the world. Frequently copied, it has become the United States’ most important export. After two centuries, every nation in the world except six have adopted written constitutions, and the U.S. Constitution was a model for all of them.”
 
Joseph Story, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1779-1845)
 
I would like to conclude by quoting the words of Joseph Story, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court who said, in reference to the Constitution of the United States…
 
“If these Commentaries shall but inspire in the rising generation a more ardent love of their country, an unquenchable thirst for liberty, and a profound reverence for the Constitution and the Union, then they will have accomplished all that their author ought to desire.  Let the American youth never forget that they possess a noble inheritance, bought by the toils, and sufferings, and blood of their ancestors; and capable, if wisely improved, and faithfully guarded, of transmitting to their latest posterity all the substantial blessings of life, the peaceful enjoyment of liberty, property, religion, and independence.  The structure has been erected by architects of consummate skill and fidelity; its foundations are solid; its compartments are beautiful as well as useful; its arrangements are full of wisdom and order; and its defenses are impregnable from without.  It has been reared for immortality, if the work of man may aspire to such a title.  It may, nevertheless, perish in an hour by the folly, or corruption, or negligence of its only keepers, THE PEOPLE.”
 
For me, July is always a month of gratitude.  May we always be grateful for the blessings of liberty, and for all those who have labored to obtain it and to keep it.  May we be vigilant keepers of the Constitution, that our children’s children’s children may inherit a legacy of liberty.
 
 
President of the Council of the twelve, Ezra Taft Benson,“Our Priceless Heritage,” Ensign, Nov 1976, 33
W. Cleon Skousen, “The Third Thousand Years,” Bookcraft, 1964, 620.
“The Proper Role of Government, by The Honorable Ezra Taft Benson, Former Secretary of Agriculture [The Eisenhower Administration-ed.] Published in 1968
“The 5000 Year Leap”, By Cleon Skousen, National Center for Constitutional Studies, 2006, xxi
The Divinely Inspired Constitution, By Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, 1992, February