I can remember 9/11 like it was yesterday. As an educator who taught American history, I spoke often of "watershed" moments in time and the affects they had on our nation and the world. These moments happen when people and events collide at a high rate of speed. At times, they’re big enough where it seems as if you can actually hear the country grunt from the impact and of decisions made by our leaders.
For me, it was September 11, and Katrina. For my grandfather, it was Pearl Harbor and WWII. For my father and mother, it was the Vietnam War and the assassination of President Kennedy. For our nation’s founders, it was the Revolutionary War. Our founders faced a question of liberty or tyranny, starting with the "shot heard round the world" and ending with the penning of the Declaration Independence and, thus, the creation of the greatest nation the world has ever known.
How we stand the test of these trials matters and liberty is always at stake. Benjamin Franklin said it best in a speech to the Pennsylvania Assembly on Nov. 11, 1755, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." He later helped pin the second greatest document ever created, the U.S. Constitution. Second only to the Bible.
Later, James Madison wrote our Constitution’s Bill of Rights. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
There is a reason why these rights were placed first. There’s also a reason why they all intertwine. The loss of one threatens the entire bundle of liberties we’re guaranteed by our constitution. It’s in times like we face today that we must remember the importance of liberty.
In 1775, John Adams stated, "But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever." He may have stated that over 245 years ago, but that truth still holds today.
It’s important that we watch out for one another and protect those most endangered by this terribly infectious virus. We should stay home as much as possible, maintain social distancing, make sure those in need of help receive it with love and stand strong together. But we also have a duty to ensure that liberty isn’t forfeited in the name of security. That the security of those in need isn’t permanently traded for fear, which is an emotion that we can’t allow to run our nation and our lives. This virus is strong, but we’re smart, and we’re stronger together. We can and will triumph over this horrible disease.
I’m so proud of the people in my district and how we take care of one another. I’ve seen countless volunteers step up in impressive ways like we always do when crisis hits near our home. I know we’ll make it through this together.
The question is how many pieces will have to be picked up when this crisis is over? History shows us too much government creates more pieces to pick up. There is a balance that must and can be achieved for both safety and liberty. By showing respect for others coupled with Faith in God Almighty, and an understanding of limited government we’ll come out of this even stronger.
I’ve heard our country grunt in this watershed moment. How we as a people respond will shape our nation for many generations to come but I know we’re up to the task.
I’ll leave you with one last thought from the Father of the Constitution. James Madison said, "The preservation of a free government requires not merely that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be universally maintained but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overlap the great barrier which defends the rights of the people. The rulers who are guilty of such an encroachment exceed the commission from which they derive their authority and are tyrants." (A Memorial and Remonstrance Presented to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia at Their Session in 1785 in Consequence of a Bill Brought into That Assembly for The Establishment of Religion (Massachusetts: Isaiah Thomas, 1786), pp. 4-5. Ibid.)
Oklahoma Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, represents District 6. A native of Durant, he is a graduate of Southeastern Oklahoma State University and an educator who has served in the Senate since 2018. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.