The Wikipedia article about the movie states, “Cage plays Benjamin Franklin Gates, a historian and amateur cryptologist searching for a lost treasure of precious metals, jewelry, artwork and other artifacts that was accumulated into a single massive stockpile by looters and warriors over many millennia starting in Ancient Egypt, later rediscovered by warriors who form themselves into the Knights Templar to protect the treasure, eventually hidden by American Freemasons during the American Revolutionary War. A coded map on the back of the Declaration of Independence points to the location of the "national treasure", but Gates is not alone in his quest. Whoever can steal the Declaration and decode it first will find the greatest treasure in history.”
Of course, the whole story pushes the envelope of believability, but it’s still great fun to watch. You just have to have, as Samuel Taylor Coleridge once wrote in his Biographia Literaria, “A willing suspension of disbelief.” What Coleridge meant was that the reader (or the member of the audience in this case), allows a certain amount of latitude to the writer (or actors and director) in order for the story to be carried out. Despite the leaps of believability in the movie, the overall movie and the title poses a more serious question of what our national treasures truly are. We tend to think that our treasures lie in our material wealth, our victories on the battlefield, our diplomatic victories on the world stage, our political successes, or even our gleaming cities. But we would be wrong to think this way. The true treasure of our nation is its people, a conglomerate of all the peoples of the earth, come to our shores drawn by the promise of freedom and the opportunity for success. Moreover, it is the American people, with their courage and hard work, who (with God’s blessing) have fought hard to make this into the greatest country on earth.
Of course, we have had our setbacks, and we have had to struggle to live up to our national values as established by our founding fathers in the late 18th century. The Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement were such struggles to live up to those values, forcing us to come to terms with and to truly establish the idea that “all men are created equal.” This was a battle that had to be fought, though. If we had not struggled and succeeded in living up to our national values of equality for all, then we would have been an utter failure as a country. Our charters, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, would have been hollow documents, without true meaning. That is why it was necessary for us to do whatever it required, blood, sweat, and tears, to establish those values and extend their meaning and power to every single human being within our favored shores. It is these people that our our true “national treasures.”
More on this tomorrow. I pray that you will enjoy your rights and freedoms in our great country, that you will appreciate the diversity of people around you in this country, that you will be grateful to our Awesome God to live in such a free, prosperous country, and that you will give God thanks and honor Him for blessing our nation.