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"Americans think they can do anything." You bet we can!

By Helen and Peter Evans
web posted March 17, 2003

America is being criticized for being "arrogant" and for being "too powerful." Yes, we are the richest and most powerful nation on earth, but this hasn't always been the case. Many forget that, just a little more than 200 years ago, we were a small collection of colonies, a bunch of farmers armed with a few muskets, rakes and shovels struggling for our freedom against what was then the greatest military power on earth. How could we even imagine we could win? Because we believed in ourselves. We believed in the power of the human spirit and the rights of the individual.

We didn't take up arms simply in order to become a military power. But we believed so fiercely in our natural rights as human beings that we would rather die defending them than continue to live under the increasingly unjust tyranny of a distant monarch. Our Founding Fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor in the defense of these rights. We made the sacrifices necessary to ensure our freedom.

The Declaration of Independence marked a turning point in the history of civilization. It explicitly acknowledged the primacy of the individual and individual sovereignty. The American Constitution describes a form of democratic self-government limited to securing the rights of individuals against threat, both domestic and foreign.

Over the years since its founding, literally millions of people from all over the world made their individual decisions to come to America. Whether they came from wealth or poverty, privilege or persecution, they came to pursue happiness on their own terms. They came freely because they believed in themselves and because they believed in America's Constitutional guarantee of the freedom to be all they could be. Over the course of those same years, America rose, again and again, to the challenge of defending itself and many other nations against the aggression and threats of Fascism, Nazism and imperial Communism. We believed in ourselves and the righteousness of our cause, and we prevailed.

As Michael Oakeshott explains in his essay, The Masses in Representative Democracy, when the individual arose against the backdrop of Medieval society, the anti-individual also came into being. The anti-individual doesn't believe in himself and is afraid of his limitations. He seeks security in the collective herd and seeks relief from personal responsibility by surrendering his decision-making to the State. He becomes the mass man. He resents the free individual, and calls him "arrogant," because he is reminded of his own inadequacy. He considers the free individual a threat, and calls him "too powerful," because he is reminded of his own weakness.

It's useful to keep in mind the perspective of the anti-individual when we try to make sense of the demands from world opinion that America surrender its sovereignty to the Kyoto Accord, to the International Criminal Court and, most recently, to the United Nations on the question of how to deal with the threat to civilization and liberty posed by Saddam Hussein. These world organizations have become instruments to divest the individual of his sovereignty, whether an individual person or an individual nation. Americans simply think differently than the socialist and collectivist masses. That's what individuals do.

America's greatness doesn't depend on one race, nationality, religion or gender. It is built of the greatness that is the best in each one of us. It depends on our belief in ourselves. We don't believe in ourselves because we're a superpower. We are a superpower because we believe in ourselves.

Peter and Helen Evans have been published on Frontiers of Freedom, Washington Dispatch, Enter Stage Right and Intellectual Conservative. They have published two books; "Freedom Through Contemplation" and "Manifest Success!" They also conduct classes via e-mail. More of their work can be seen at http//www.onecenter.org/oc-articles.html. They live in Washington, DC.

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