I think that Americans in general want everything done in a hurry. Maybe that’s why so many of us have cell phones, microwaves, air conditioning, central heating, and fuel-injected engines. We want it done NOW. So, if things don’t always turn out the way we want or expect, we get dejected. That’s where history is such a valuable teacher. Look at the long view of history, and in particular take a look at the history of religious and political toleration/freedom in England. How long did it take for England to achieve religious and political liberty as we value it today? Did it take ten years? A generation or maybe two?

Some could start with the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, in which a few restrictions were placed upon the English king, the institutional church was granted certain rights, and barons were protected from illegal imprisonment. The whole thing was later annulled by Pope Innocent III and no one actually stood by their agreements.

We could jump to the beginning of the Protestant Reformation in 1517. The movement began in what is now Germany and quickly spread throughout northern Europe, including England and Scotland. For over 150 years England went back and forth between Catholic monarchs and Protestant rulers (like Cromwell) and monarchs, with much slaughter on both sides of the religious equation. Finally, in 1688 England deposed James II as king, accepted William and Mary as their new king and queen, and within a year a bill of rights was signed that forever settled whether the English would be governed by Protestants or Catholics. Not long after that, dissident Protestant groups were guaranteed religious liberty (a rather new idea in Europe at the time), but the Catholics were still ostracized from serving in government and several other rights. It was not until 1766 that movement began to get rid of anti-Catholic laws. Even after Catholics were finally granted their God-given rights that we all take for granted, we must remember that there were still people who could not vote or hold office or have even the most basic of liberties.

For example, slavery was not abolished until 1833, and women could not vote until 1918.

So, how long did it take for most of the religious and political freedoms we hold dear to take hold for the people of England? From 1517 to 1918 is a mighty long time, but it did happen. Have the long view of history—in view.