On this July 4th, the American holiday of independence, let all readers around the world give thanks for the events of the late 18th century. While Britain is undoubtedly the grandfather of modern liberty, rooted in its 13th century Magna Carta declaration, and the works of its great liberal thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century such as Smith, Hume and many others, and they in turn were inspired by the Hebrew Bible, with its declarations of freedom from Egypt, “proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof,” (inscribed on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia) and strong restrictions on authoritarian government, it is the United States, in its radical revolution against monarchical Britain, its founding not on a race or language or history but on an ideal of liberty and freedom, of individual responsibility and rights, and belief in the essential rights to freedom of all mankind, that brought these notions to the point where, today, well over half of the world is free or mostly free.
I walked home late one night last year with my teenage son, and realized that I grew up in a world he did not know. It was a world with fewer than 20 truly free states – US, Canada, UK, West Germany, France, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, perhaps a few others. Yet nowadays almost all of Europe is free, much of Africa is free, much of Asia is free, with China far more so than it was, with much of South America now free.
It took the ideal of radical revolution against the monarchy, a battle of 7+ years, and rising to a superpower without becoming a super empire, that spread Scottish and Hebrew ideals of freedom and the belief in their possibility to the world.
Whatever your nationality, whatever trials and travails have occurred to your country or America, count the blessings of Independence.