Traveling with my dad meant never taking the same road twice, so we inhaled dirt on paths not found on any map. Discovering petrogylphs, touring Fort Hall, reading signs about the Oregon Trail, and watching bison graze on the prairie are fond memories of my childhood.
History was alive to me. The musty smell of old museums and the faded signatures of pioneers were not just relics from the past. They contained a part of my identity. I imagined living life in a rough-hewn log cabin. I wondered how my great-grandmother stored enough food to last the long winter. Strength and perseverance prevailed in the cold desert of Southern Idaho. My ancestors wrestled with the land and forced it to bloom.
America’s forefathers fought something more deadly than a desert. They labored against an idea that existed for millennia.
Social order rested on the assumed natural inequality of men. The individual was regarded as of value only as he formed a part of the political fabric, and was able to contribute to its uses, as though it were the end of his being to aggrandize the State. This was the pagan idea of man…This low view of man was exerting its full influence when Rome was at the height of its power and glory. Christianity then appeared with its central doctrine, that man was created in the Divine image, and destined for immortality; pronouncing that, in the eye of God, all men are equal. Richard Frothingham quoted in The Christian History of the Constitution
America’s liberty is rooted in an idea that reaches across oceans and continents. The seed took generations to sprout, but when the intrinsic value of the individual permeated society, it broke crowns and freed slaves. Today the roots are dry and cracked. They are buried, but they still nourish. Individuals are valuable. Each person has the fingerprints of God. When self-evident truth is embraced, liberty spreads.
May future generations abound in the sweet savor of self-government’s blossoms displacing the grime along life’s many trails.
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