Why We Should be Thankful for the Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights
When the idea of having a Bill of Rights was first discussed in congress, James Madison initially opposed the idea. He believed that having a Bill of Rights would restrict freedom rather than protect it since he assumed that all rights belong to the people in the first place. While Madison’s statement presents an optimal situation, a land so free that a document stating the rights of the people is unnecessary; it is also an idealistic approach. The Bill of Rights was created to more clearly define the rights of Americans, to protect the American people from statutes which would infringe upon certain basic freedoms.
Many of America’s early leaders feared a government that would impose religious persecution, deny the right to free-speech, or allow solders to quarter in families’ homes at will. They recognized that power corrupts and that strong efforts had to be put forth to prevent the eroding of rights associated with liberty and the pursuit of happiness of the American people. Without explicit statements defending those rights implanted deep into the constitution of the United States, they knew those rights would quickly fall away.
The Liberty we Enjoy
Today, over 200 years since the ratification of the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments of the US constitution, our rights are, generally speaking, still preserved. We do not live in a perfect nation, for such is far from the case, but thanks to the efforts of the founding fathers to protect us, we can enjoy the freedoms that we have today.
Halfway across the world in countries like Libya, Syria, Jordan, and Yemen, people are being tortured, imprisoned, and even killed for protesting against their corrupt governments (AFP, 2001). Every day, Christians are persecuted for their beliefs in China, Egypt, Pakistan, and over forty other nations across the globe. In many other nations, ordinary citizens live in fear of being detained without cause or do not have the right to a trial by jury. Even in France, under a government that is considered “western” and “developed”, women are denied the right to wear a niqab, a face-covering veil which worn by many conservative Muslims (AFP, 2001).
Many Americans take it for granted, but the United States, in my opinion and based on my research, is the land with more liberty for its citizens than any other nation in the world. None of the infringed rights which were mentioned above are imposed in America. Christians are free to worship and assemble, Muslim woman are free to dress in their religious attire, and individuals can freely speak publicly, even though their speech be against a current political group or office.
Are you grateful?
Ironically, in the end, it was James Madison who formally introduced the Bill of Rights to congress and two years later it was ratified, making the first ten amendments to the constitution. We should be grateful for Madison’s initiative and the wisdom of the Founding Fathers. If you are an American, you should give thanks for the freedom to worship, for the freedom from fear of injustice, and for the freedom to express yourself.