Articles & Op-eds

What it means to be an American

Recently I was asked to speak at a rally sponsored by a group called, Keep Colorado Free and Open. The topic requested was,”What it means to be an American.”

That’s a tall order and a bit of a paradox. If America is based on individual freedom, then who am I to tell others what it means to be an American? Of course, dealing primarily in opinion, and having a love for persuasion rather than force, I jumped at the chance to take a crack at it.

Here’s what I said.  I welcome your opinion at

What it means to be an American

To be an American is to be the citizen of a country that is dedicated to individual Liberty—a country that was expressly created to celebrate the individual rather than the collective. 

Every citizen is entitled to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness regardless of whether they recognize it or not.

When you think about it, that’s kind of extraordinary by itself.  The United States of America recognizes these rights as blessings from our creator and not bestowed upon us by other men.

Further, these rights are not conditional upon whether every citizen believes in God and regardless of what each citizen conceives of our Creator to be, though it is much better if they do.

We use the word Liberty rather than the word Freedom because Liberty entails the responsible use of freedom under a just rule of law that does not deprive anyone else of their freedom.

In order to protect that Liberty for all, we give our consent to be governed. 

History has taught us repeatedly that governments with too much power can and eventually often do govern against the will of the People and without their consent.

 That is why, in recognizing the ferocity of government power, we act to limit and constrain that power.

To be truly American it is necessary to understand that to protect our own precious Liberty, we must protect the Liberty of others —even those who don’t understand, or of whom we disapprove or strongly disagree.

That right to disapprove and disagree is also among our precious rights to free thought and free will. We don’t have the right to use government as our proxy to force others to agree or to obey.

Today we find ourselves in a situation that is shall we say, upside down from optimal? We have no right to disapprove AND we are being forced by a powerful government and un-elected bureaucrats to obey.

“Consent” by definition means that we always have the right to withdraw that consent when governments become masters rather than servants.

We are living in a time when we must convince a disturbing number of our fellow citizens that Liberty is better.  Liberty, with its special responsibilities is better than tyranny and totalitarianism.

To make matters even more challenging, we are watching a concerted and brazen effort to twist reality and even the definitions of words:

-to call Liberty tyranny and tyranny Liberty.
-to call the concern for Liberty for ourselves and our fellow citizens, selfish
-to call criminals victims and law-abiding citizens, criminals
-to use a 99.8% non-lethal virus as an excuse to overthrow America and install 
socialism and  communism in its place.
-to call good evil, and evil good.

Isn’t there a verse in the Tanach that talks about this?

Isaiah 5:20: Woe to those who say of the evil that it is good and of the good that it is evil; who present darkness as light and light as darkness, who present bitter as sweet and sweet as bitter.

In actively disobeying unjust laws and explaining why they are unjust, we educate and persuade others that in protecting our liberty, they protect their own.

To be an American is to stand unapologetically for these Founding principles in the service of our own enlightened self-interest and in the interest of the next generation.

We remain in awe of Americans before us who valued Liberty so much, that they were willing to die to preserve and protect it FOR US!

We are living in an extraordinary time in which America itself is quite possibly in the gravest danger since our founding.

We are in a position not unlike our Founders who pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to declare America’s independence from an oppressive government.

They were a tiny minority and they did this not just for themselves but for their posterity. WE are their posterity.

We know that it is our responsibility to preserve this country for those who will come after us.

We must do everything in our power to protect our own Liberty (as opposed to freedom) and the Liberty of those who don’t even understand it… yet.

In the interest of preserving that Liberty, politicians and non-politicians alike must be held responsible for acting against the will of the people and depriving us and our fellow citizens of our God-given Liberty.

So what does it mean to be an American? The right to think your own thoughts, to speak your own truth, to freely travel and assemble, to make your own choices, to defend yourself and your family, to worship your God, and to know that no politician or health department bureaucrat has any right whatsoever to take that away. Why? Because the Constitution says so.



photo credit: Gage Skidmore Thomas Jefferson memorial via photopin (license)

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