A common thread throughout is course the idea of risk. Why would the Founders want risk to be a part of the American experience?
A working definition of risk is, ?The possibility of suffering harm or loss; danger. A factor, thing, element, or course involving uncertain danger; a hazard.?
In the Declaration of Independence, when Jefferson presents the idea of the Natural Rights, ?life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? he is implying risk. Let?s look closely at the word, ?pursuit.? Does ?pursuit? guarantee anyone happiness? Is happiness the promise that Jefferson is referring to? No. He is referring to the right to pursue happiness. The choice of the word pursuit infers that ?you? may or may not achieve happiness. What Jefferson is telling us is that government will get out of the way in order for you to pursue happiness. But there is no promise of happiness. There is a risk that you will, or will not achieve happiness. Notice that there is no inference of what happiness is ? since it differs for each person.
Before we go too much further let?s look at some other examples where risk is inferred.
We also learn about the role of religion in American society. As we learned, for numerous reasons Jefferson did not want the State to use faith as a social glue to bind us together. Instead Jefferson allowed faith to compete in the market place of ideas. The church had to offer something of value in order to survive.
In America we vote three ways;
a.) with our feet,
b.) with our dollars and
c.) in the voting booth.
Since church budgets were not going to be subsidized by the Federal Government, a church needed to provide a good that Americans were willing to ?vote for? with their dollars and presence. Today over 43% of American citizens attend regular worship services. This number actually rose in 2014. This is among the highest averages in the world. Among the lowest are the Scandinavian countries such as Norway and Denmark where only 3% of the population attend religious services each week. Perhaps Jefferson was correct when he allowed religious organization accept the risk for their own existence.
In another example, in Week Two we read that ?All men are created equal.? We learned that our equality is not financial, intellectual or physical. Generally speaking our equality is defined in three ways;