“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among them are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness….”

It’s not unusual for us to grow complacent about things that come to feel normal. For example, take the above quote from the Declaration of Independence. We are all familiar with it. We read it in school, hopefully many times. We hear politicians quote it (albeit sometimes painfully badly). And for those of us living in Philadelphia and its environs, because it was written in our backyard, we risk taking for granted its profound and enduring significance.

And yet to accept such complacency about our nation’s founding and the American Trinity, as Dennis Prager repeatedly refers to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” is not only unacceptably ignorant, but in the fall of 2021, also endangers our Republic. In his book American Creation, historian Joseph Ellis declares this sentence to be composed of “the most potent and consequential words in American history.” If this is so, how have so many of us lost sight of such a truth? And perhaps even more importantly, if many more of us are committed to upholding the values upon which our country was based, why are such beliefs so vulnerable to woke criticism? Why, if “these truths” are “self-evident,” do conservatives need to actively and vociferously defend them? 

READ MORE — Jennifer Lindner: Mom and children take an educational stand in the name of liberty.

In the last few years, many of us have been shocked by how quickly the radical left has gained power. Progressivism has enjoyed a patient and gradual ascent in our country for decades. With the election of President Trump and then the onslaught of Covid, left-wing Democrats, Democratic Socialists, and radical extremists of every ilk have grabbed opportunities to push agendas, demand adherence to mandates, and snag their talons in as many areas as possible. We cannot help but be reminded of that grim and revealing phrase from Rahm Emanuel in 2008: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Indeed, this has become a mantra of the left. They are experts at using governmental power as well as mainstream and social media to incite and fuel chaos to gain more control.

Why, though, is the left so much more adept at promoting their radical agendas than conservatives are at defending and upholding American values? As Dr. Stephen Blackwood, founding president of Ralston College, recently asked in an interview with renowned author Jordan Peterson, “Why is it that the left … seems to beat us on the moral argument every time, despite the fact that we know our systems and the ideas we espouse historically have been shown to be superior to the very values that the so-called left is [peddling]?”

Part of the answer is that conservatives are neither used to, nor do we particularly like, defending our positions. According to Dennis Prager, “Conservatives have essentially one demand: leave us alone.” We are most interested in as little governmental intervention as possible and living according to respected traditional standards. And because these standards seem obvious to us, we tend to be rather poor at arguing their merits. Our values are truly “self-evident.” They need no further explanation than those given in the Declaration. We believe in equality for all people. We believe in God. And we believe we are born with inherent natural rights, which include life itself, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness.

We find ourselves careening down a steep ideological cliffside toward an edge that will launch us into an abyss of totalitarianism. Most Americans have no idea what this will look like. But many immigrants do, as they have fled countries where freedom is only a dream. We would do well to heed their advice. It is they who are forecasting that once in flight towards fascism, socialism, and communism, the only vehicle for transport is the woke mob.

It is hardly surprising then that for many, especially young people, American values are no longer self-evident. Our progressive media has become so adept at emulsifying opinion and news that often neither is distinguishable from the other. As Andrew Klavan stated, “The mainstream media almost always get their left-wing narrative right, whether the facts support it or not. That’s called confirming your own prejudices. It’s called bias. It’s called ‘fake news.’” The media as well as the medical, educational, entertainment, sports, and corporate communities have united in unprecedented ways. They have formed a virtually impenetrable alliance that insists on promoting fear, division, and paranoia in order to control the narrative du jour. Only a few months ago, for example, the president monarchically declared he was “losing patience” with the unvaccinated who refuse to comply with his unconstitutional dictates, and by doing so, threw yet another match into an already smoldering fire fueled by anger.

Conservatives can no longer remain passive or polite. With sadness but also forthrightness, we must state unequivocally that the left is working to snuff out the foundational truths of our Republic. And without the stability such truths afford us, is it any wonder so many Americans feel uncertain of our future?

Many states, including our own Commonwealth, continue to follow the trend, depending on leftist governors, legislatures, and school boards, fiercely gripping to the fiefdoms they refuse to relinquish to their constituents. It is hardly surprising, but nonetheless pathetic, that Philadelphia, the city that witnessed the birth of our nation, through its laws or lack thereof, perpetuates the very victimization, racism, and hatred the left purports to decry. After nearly two years of covid, mandates and shutdowns continue, based on emotion, whims and, at best, uncertain science.

The government’s response to covid is not the only threat to our liberty. From the border to the gas pump to the classroom, it appears America’s light as a beacon of hope for the rest of the world is dimming. Conservatives can no longer remain passive or polite. With sadness but also forthrightness, we must state unequivocally that the left is working to snuff out the foundational truths of our Republic. And without the stability such truths afford us, is it any wonder so many Americans feel uncertain of our future?

In the search for a return to truth, many of us have discovered one of the root causes of our uncertainty: gaslighting. Once relegated to the arena of mental health, this term has become part of our vernacular and quintessentially explains leftist rhetoric. Gaslighting is an insidious form of manipulation that causes victims to question their reality. The victim, who tries to argue according to reason, fails amidst the abuser’s circular arguments and ever-changing rules that he alone determines. The point of gaslighting is to destabilize the victim to such an extent that she questions everything she knows to be self-evident. In the end, the victim is so uncertain of everything that she is exhausted and easily manipulated. Empowered, the abuser controls the victim, the rules of the relationship, and whatever narrative he pleases.

The left is abusing the American people and upending everything we know to be true. It should be self-evident that the color of our skin has no bearing on our character. It should be self-evident that parents should have a say in their children’s education. It should be self-evident that books promoting pedophilia, gender dysphoria, and sexual abuse have no place in public schools. It should be self-evident that when public officials refuse to hold criminals accountable, crime will increase and those very officials are to blame. But on every count, it’s not. And in this gaslit parallel universe, any time we question this new reality, we are censored, slandered, or canceled. The left is never held to account for their failures or abuses, despite the obvious effects.   

People around the globe are incredulous at America’s rapid decline. Some laugh, some are fearful, and others are waiting to assert their power politically, financially, and militarily. Like millions of Americans desperate to shield their children from CRT, America appears weary. Her foundations are being tested in ways that may be permanently destructive. Upon leaving the Constitutional Convention in Independence Hall in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787, a passerby asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government we have. “A Republic,” he answered, “if you can keep it.” We now ask, “Can we?”

We must decide to answer, “Yes.” Conservative-minded, freedom-loving Americans should take heart. We may feel like the proverbial tortoise, while our opponents are quick to extol their hare-like deftness in the messaging race. But the past eighteen months have witnessed a growing unified call to liberty the likes of which our Founding Fathers presented in The Declaration of Independence. And it is to the truths asserted in this document that we must fervently point and point and point again.

Last month’s elections proved that when the American people uphold the spirit of liberty — when we hold fast to the Constitution — we are victorious. A red wave swept across the country even in unexpected regions. While the winning margins may have been slim in many cases, proving we have a lot of work to do, Pennsylvania Senator contender Kathy Barnette is enthusiastic and hopeful. Just days after the election, she declared we should be “excited about the results we’ve [witnessed] across our nation,” as they prove “we can win!”

We may feel like the proverbial tortoise, while our opponents are quick to extol their hare-like deftness in the messaging race. But the past eighteen months have witnessed a growing unified call to liberty the likes of which our Founding Fathers presented in The Declaration of Independence.

The left is more desperate than ever to maintain control, as revealed by their death grip on whatever gaslit narrative du jour they choose to peddle. In their hubris, however, they have underestimated the will and discernment of the American people. The present administration, radical left, and mainstream media thought we would cower under their threats, restrictions, and mandates. But just as our forefathers did, we will not back down. Most Americans refuse to comply with totalitarian dictates. When we speak authentically and clearly, conservatives will gain momentum, win, and restore sanity and security even in areas that seem to bleed blue.

How did we achieve a turn of the tides in the fall? We rededicated ourselves to the self-evident truths of The Declaration. Average Americans joined forces to confront and reject progressive school boards, unconstitutional mandates, and draconian laws that undermine freedom. In our own backyard, conservative groups and individuals gathered, marched, and spoke out in defense of our liberty. They were criticized, slandered, and censored. But they were and are committed to shining light on the self-evident truths that the woke mob is attempting to snuff out. 

Even when we grow weary, we must uphold and espouse conservative truths. We are called to do this because even what is self-evidently true and beautiful is vulnerable to corruption. Our freedom comes from God and thus can never be destroyed. But humans, tempted by greed, power, and self-interest, can be led astray. Let us be renewed by the spirit of the Declaration. Let us hold fast to the American Trinity. And as Philadelphians, let us recommit to the inscription on our very own Liberty Bell that inspired abolitionists throughout America: “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof.”

Jennifer Lindner is an author, writer, blogger, and integrative wellness coach. A consummate student of life, ever studying philosophy, psychology, religion, and Catholic and mystic traditions, she utilizes her myriad of interests and skills in her many areas of work. She is committed to the belief that there is nothing more important than investing in our relationship with and knowing ourselves, and advocates using this discernment to aim toward the highest possible good. Jennifer lives and works in Malvern.

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