Our founding fathers looked across the oceans and the ages to assemble the philosophy on which this great nation would be built upon. First they looked to their own Christian heritage for the authority for self-rule. From there they examined the civilizations of the Greeks and Romans and their own european homelands to develop a form of governance that has become the longest standing republic known to man. They enumerated these principles in our founding documents – the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Finally, the people then acted on these ideas and our nation as we know it came into being.
Our principles are reinforced by laws. These laws are written down so that reasonable persons can have certainty in the conduct of their every day lives. Contracts will be enforceable, our liberties protected, and order will be maintained. If another person breaks the rules our society has established we have the right to seek protection and redress through our legal system. However, that right of redress does nothing to abrogate the natural right of self-defense. In the immediacy of the moment we have the inalienable right to protect our lives and our property. The Founders had observed this principle in action through English common law and then the written 1689 Declaration of Rights.
John Adams rightly stated during his 1770 defense of the English troops on trial for the Boston Massacre…
“We talk of liberty and property, but, if we cut up the law of self-defence, we cut up the foundation of both, and if we give up this, the rest is of very little value, and therefore, this principle must be strictly attended to… if a robber meets me in the street, and commands me to surrender my purse, I have a right to kill him without asking questions; if a person commits a bare assault on me, this will not justify killing, but if he assaults me in such a manner, as to discover an intention to kill me, I have a right to destroy him.”
What we see in the riots occurring in England today is a failure on two levels. First, the government and police are failing to prosecute criminals in so many cases that there is little fear of real consequences. When society will not uphold its laws then the members of that society loses confidence in all aspects of that government. By failing to uphold their portion of the social contract he government has lost its legitimate authority to rule in the name of the people it is supposed to protect.
Secondly, the government’s incremental elimination of its citizen’s natural right of self-defense makes criminals of honest men. How can one have faith in governmental institutions that wont protect your life or property but then would take away your freedom for defending it? If you are not allowed to protect your freedoms and liberties then you have none.
These riots in England (and Greece and France as well) are symptomatic of what occurs as government is allowed to control more and more of our individual lives. The mobs of self-entitled miscreants protesting for more largess from the productive class of society are the “squeaky wheel”. To quiet the mob the socialist elements of government will press for more support or aid for these downtrodden unfortunates. Meanwhile, to pay for this generosity, the law-abiding citizens who lost property and were injured will be burdened with the taxes and debt to pay for it.
There have been some small instances of mob violence in America recently. The approach that the government takes towards the criminals versus law-abiding citizens acting in their own defense will show us how far this nation has fallen from its founding principles. We are a nation of laws, not of men. However, when the government can’t or won’t enforce the law, we have the natural right as men to defend our lives and our property. Pray that our leaders find the strength and courage to live up to their end of our social construct. If they don’t, the Declaration of Independence is instructive as to the path we may take…
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
London riots erupt - Lewis Whyld / AP