The Virginia Convention on the ratification of the Constitution was just getting started on June 4, 1788, when George Nicholas stood up to speak. This beloved soldier and patriot was said to have been the first man to fire a shot against the British as they invaded Philadelphia. Those on the floor were concerned that the newborn Constitution would prove too weak to prevent future tyranny and so would bring about the abolition of the freedom these young colonies had so recently fought to win.

“An enlightened people,” said Nicholas, “Will never suffer what was established for their security to be perverted to an act of tyranny.”

This statement was simple, but it made all the difference. The Convention members understood his meaning. An enlightened citizenship would never allow power-hungry men to twist the original meaning of the Constitution into something which would suppress their freedom. The founding fathers had installed enough safeguards to ensure this. All it required was that the people of America remain enlightened.

We must ask ourselves this question: are we an enlightened people? Are we protecting ourselves against tyrants who would take away our liberties? Or have we become lazy and ignorant, not educating ourselves as to the Constitution and the decisions being made in our courts today?

Dr. Michael Farris writes, “If we are honest about our situation, we have to conclude that George Nicholas’s optimism has not been fulfilled. The Constitution was intended for our liberty. The Supreme Court was especially intended to protect our liberties. Instead, the Court has twisted the Constitution and made it an instrument of tyranny.”

We the people must once again educate ourselves. We must once again prove ourselves enlightened. By reading Supreme Court cases, studying Constitutional law, making informed voter choices, letting our elected officials hear our voices, and paying attention to the decisions they make, we will be enlightened, we will have freedom and we will not be tyrannized. I believe that if many people studied the recent Supreme Court cases they would be absolutely shocked at how our freedoms are being usurped. The founding fathers would be dismayed and outraged. We, the people of America, have a responsibility to ourselves, to our children, to our forefathers, and to this great land itself.

Let us be enlightened.