Monday, June 22, 2009

Freedom in Iran

I watched the video of the college girl shot by security forces in Iran. She was just a bystander with her father. I'm not linking to it, but it is easy enough to find. The poignant words and images from Iran make me want to cry, and yet they also cause hope to swell in my heart. The human spirit yearns for freedom - agency - the ability to decide one's own fate, to freely expess one's thoughts. I salute those Iranians who are bravely and boldly speaking out for their liberty because the government no longer represents the will of the people. Furthermore, the people perceive that they no longer can rely upon the government to redress their grievances. The situation has many parallels to the events leading up to the American Revolution. Now, I'm not saying that Iran will follow the same path, but the yearning, the desire, is present. The people are using all means at their disposal to pressure the government for justice. Our ancestors found themselves in much the same situation. After exhausting all political means available to them, the founders of our great nation found it necessary to take arms against their own government in order to obtain liberty.

After establishing the Constitution to provide for effective government while making every effort to protect individual and states rights, a debate arose over the inclusion of the Bill of Rights in order to explicitly enshrine and protect certain rights. Many argued the effort unnecessary since any right not explicitly granted to the Federal Government is understood to be held by the states and the people. Experience has taught us though, that governments naturally tend to take more authority than they rightfully have. A quick review of US Supreme Court rulings will make it obvious that even these supposedly obvious rights can be anything but. Understanding that power craves power, that government is power, and that it tends to supress indiviual rights, we have the Bill of Rights. It is no accident that the first of these rights is the most important. The freedom of speech, religion and assembly is basic to liberty in the human existence. Without it there can be no other liberties, and we are witness to a great struggle between a people yearning to express themselves and a government trying to repress and extinguish this very expression in Iran.

The very next article in the Bill of Rights is second, in my opinion, because it is the second most important in the list. Individuals have a right to defend and protect their freedoms. The citizens of the United States were concerned that the Federal government could potentially grow so powerful that it would usurp state and individual rights. The struggle with Britian had shown that even a free and representative government can become oppressive. They knew that the ultimate protection from tryanny is the ability to fight against it. In order to provide against the day when the Federal government would become violently oppressive, the second amendment guarantees that the people have the right to keep and bear arms and that the states can maintain militias to protect themselves against a Federal Army bent upon tyranny. It wasn't that each state would maintain a standing army. Most people abhorred the idea of standing armies, Federal or State, but that every citizen would be fully armed against the day when the government no longer honored the Constitution.

As I watch the people of Iran being murdered by their own government as it supresses their rights, I am grateful for the 2nd Amendment in our Constitution as a buffer against tyranny, and my heart goes out to the people in Iran as the struggle for liberty.

2 comments:

juliedbeaumont said...

Hey Dan, For some reason i missed this post and found it whe I was checking to see if you had written anything new. Do you really think that a state would take up arms against the federal government? I had never thought of that before. except in the Civil War of course. But I mean when any US citizen takes up arms against the government they are either shot or incarcerated aren't they? I have always imagined this amendment to be about a person being able to defend themsleves in their own home if being attacked. But I guess that shows how little I have thought about this subject because that thought is only really relavent for this time period. I mean back in the day of the westward movement across the plains and the settling of the west guns were an essential part of life for food, personal safety, and the preservation of orderly communities. I watched Tombstone the other day:) in case you were wondering where this came from!

db1911 said...

The Founders took for granted that people had the right to defend themselves. It frightens me today that people can think otherwise. This clause, however, goes way beyond personal protection. The Founders had just rebelled from their own country because their rights and liberties were being taken away. Many were shot and incarcerated. They also understood that they were creating a powerful federal government, and while they hoped that there were sufficient protections, they felt it necessary to provide the people with every means necessary to throw off the new govenment too, if ever one day it too usurped liberty. They hoped others wouldn't have to make that sacrifice, but they purposely provided the means to rebel if it came down to it. I don't think it would be some much state against state, as it would be group against group. IN DC the Lord said that all those who will not take up his sword against his neighbor must need flee unto Zion for safety. I could see circumstances that would tear our social fabric apart. There are already people talking about it in certain circles.