Thursday, June 25, 2009
Americans - and citizens of other countries too - can sometimes take the fact that we live in a free society for granted.
But the truth is that for the vast majority of recorded history governments have existed not to serve their people, but rather to draw sustenance from them.
Sometimes we forget that the idea of democracy was a pretty radical experiment at the time. Even now these freedoms that we take for granted are a pretty rare thing compared to the rest of the world.
The truth is that a lot of the human race today is not permitted to say what they want, or to believe what they want, or to live their lives the way they want.
America did not invent the idea that human beings have rights, nor did we invent the system of democracy. But the American Revolution put these ideas into practice at a point in human history when they were ripe to flourish.
These ideas have been spreading ever since, to people who might live in distant places and might lead very different lives, but who still felt the conviction that these ideas were true for them too.
Not only have these values been spreading, they have been accelerating. Ideas spread insatiably, and every advance that helps them to travel faster - whether it was the printing press, the telephone, the radio, the television, or the Internet - has also helped them to outrun those who would try to suppress them.
Governments who try to control the free spread of ideas do so out of fear of what it represents: a system where power cannot be hoarded by an arbitrary few, but rather where it springs in equal portion from everyone.
The Revolution isn't over. And it won't be over until the whole human race is free.