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A short but impressive history

Progressive Cattleman Editor David Cooper Published on 01 July 2011

A few years ago, my wife and I traveled overseas. While visiting friends in their home, the conversation turned to our kids. This friend said her son enjoyed studying music, and I said my son had an interest in U.S. history.

“American history,” she snuffed. “You Americans have no history.”

Maybe you’re like me and liken that kind of insulting statement to poaching a bald eagle or spitting on Betsy Ross’ needlework. But before I took it too much to heart, I figured what she probably meant.

Compared to the history of Europe, Asia or the Middle East, the American story is an experience still being written in its early chapters.

Yet over a span of more than 300 years, the experiment has produced impressive results. A nation settled and built by castoffs and immigrants has an economic and political system admired and imitated around the world.

The most remarkable piece of this is the Constitution, a document that breathes life into the ideals of people yearning to govern themselves.

Most of the liberties guaranteed by it are memorialized in stone and written figuratively in the hearts of Americans.

But how empty is the idea of liberty if it doesn’t become a living precept? What makes freedom a tangible truth can’t be limited to what you read in history books.

It thrives most when it can be applied and redefined within your own pursuit of happiness.

Considering it’s July and flags wave high, I figure it’s worth exploring some lesser-known freedoms.

The liberty of land use
Americans understand the deeper bond to the land they call home. But I think stewards in ranching and agriculture play a powerful role in protecting that connection.

Whether it be private land or the public use of federal land, the amber waves of grain define who we are. In essence, we never really own it either; we simply use it to sustain us and preserve it for future generations.

The right to purchase –
Walk into any grocery story from Bellingham to Boca Raton and you’ll be greeted by a variety of goods that would have buried the Roman Empire in jealousy.

That selection is a monument to our competitive free markets. Nowhere is the quality more apparent than in the meat aisle.

Of course, having so much choice can lead to some excess. But with rare exception, the government cannot dictate how you spend your hard-earned dollar.

The freedom of industry –
Let’s face it, the word industry has been stained in the last hundred years or so. It’s time we took it back.

Our early Americans sweated through economic struggle by following the law of the harvest – that what you reap is what you sow.

That, at the heart of it, really defines the meaning of industry, and it’s something no American should ever be ashamed of.

The opportunity to assist –
Recently I heard from retired missionaries who had performed humanitarian work in Russia. Their efforts to help orphanages and mental hospitals were met by the government with suspicion and hostility.

Not so here in America, where a dependence upon neighbors has lifted us through a difficult season of tornadoes, floods and wildfires.

When we say government can’t compel to do everything, it’s worth remembering that includes extending a hand of relief.  end_mark

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David Cooper
Editor

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