I know many great patriots who are interested in helping to restore America to the ideals that guided our Founding Fathers almost 250 years ago. Even so, the question I hear most often is, “what can I do?”
There is no perfect answer to that question because we all have abilities and tendencies we are born with. No two patriots are the same. Paul Revere was no skilled wordsmith; but he could ride a horse like the wind. Thomas Jefferson was no soldier or saint; but he possessed an unrivaled capacity to grasp and formulate abstractions regarding the human condition and express them in a way that has since allowed his ponderings to pierce the hearts of generations, inspiring peoples throughout the world to act to better their socio-political conditions.
Noting the individuals who tasked themselves with declaring independence in Philadelphia in 1776, each brought something different to the table. Jefferson largely disagreed with America’s to-be second President John Adams, on many subjects. Neither were perfect individuals. But together, their influences on the founding and meaning of America literally changed the world we enjoy today.
So what brought all of these world-changers together in Philadelphia in 1776? What was the force behind their efforts? And what was the inspiration that gave them the necessary insight and the motivation to separate the 13 American-British colonies from Great Britain, understanding that King George would not allow them to break ties without a protracted fight?
I would argue that in many ways the result of their efforts published on July 4, 1776, that being the Declaration of Independence, was and is today a product of faith, inspiring men to seek God’s favor, determined to perform God’s will on earth. That’s essentially what our founders wrote in their declaration, each signer, “firmly relying on the protection of divine Providence,” and pledging all earthly known to him on the prospect that creating their new nation was indeed God’s work. They believed God would richly reward their efforts, not necessarily them personally, but reward the nation that sprang from their efforts. Whereas a good friend once said, “It is never the right time to do the wrong thing,” I argue that there was hardly a better time for mortal men to do the right thing than in July of 1776.
What would life be like today had not those individuals done what they did during those fleeting moments? I’m not sure, but I expect the world would be entirely different than the one we inherited.
But excusing the likelihood that God placed his hand on the Philadelphia gathering in 1776, perhaps we should ask what lessons any of us might draw today from our founders’ efforts? One lesson might be to recognize the all too novel example that when the inspiration to act hit, no founder hesitated. No patriot shrank from his responsibility, allowing others to perform the tasks each understood as a personal assignment.
Have you never received a momentary inspiration, or perhaps an inclination, one instant a thought to act being absent, the next it becoming overpowering? That thought of yours may have been an inspiration to undertake a vital purpose. How did you respond? Did you forsake all else and devote yourself to achieving that purpose? Or did you allow the inspiration to dissipate until it became a vague memory? I would argue that most of the time, when an individual truly makes a mark on this world, that mark results from a seed of momentary inspiration, acted upon without hesitation. There was a moment when Donald Trump decided to run for President. There was a moment when the Wright Brothers decided to fly. There was a moment when Dr. King decided to step beyond life as a Baptist preacher to advocate civil rights. There was a moment when JFK chose to abandon the private purposes of his sponsors in favor of the purposes of the American people. There was a moment in which Booker T. Washington decided to be an educator, Edison an inventor, Ford a manufacturer. I expect that many or most of us experience those same moments, those calls on our lives, and many or most of us rarely respond with the zeal we might if we knew our efforts would truly make a difference in the world. Effort is a gamble, with no predetermined payoff. One never knows the fruits of personal effort before it is wagered.
So I do not know the exact moment that it occurred, or the source of inspiration that stimulated his efforts. But I expect that if you ask him, Forsyth County resident Derek Sommerville would tell you that it happened much as I describe above.
I expect there was a moment when Derek decided to venture to undertake the arduous and unceremonial task of personally scouring the various county courthouse records throughout north Georgia for evidence that now serves as the key for the public to understand how one of the most powerful officeholders in Georgia government has abused his professional privileges and responsibilities as an officer of the court, possibly even selling his position as Speaker of the House, effectively undermining our state and local criminal and civil justice systems, to those who have been willing to pay for his services.
No, I do not know when that moment hit Derek. I just know that when it did, he did not hesitate. And friends, that is how we restore America.
Hank Sullivan is a Forsyth County resident, businessman, author and speaker on American history, economics and geopolitics.