Freedom, both the incandescent whisper of revolution and the reduced triviality of commercialism, is the seed from which the most opulent columns of civilization have sprung and the hammer from which the most prolific empires have fallen. If history has taught us anything – other than man’s propensity to achieve the improbable and preside over humanity’s most grotesque atrocities – it’s that you cannot fight or defeat an idea, even long after its armies are vanquished. It endures as long as man endures and a single vessel believes in its undying premise.
What is liberty’s most quintessential definition? Is it merely a politician’s word, wrapped around the sentimentality of patriotism, or does it reside in the solemn handshake of a handful of idealists who risked their lives, the very future of their families, solely to taste its fruits without condition or regret? Freedom, that which cannot be enumerated or quantified, is by no means a guarantee of equal means or outcome; it is a potential gateway to endless exploration and limitless potential. Liberty is both the twisted flame of malice that willingly ensnares the souls and limbs of men into the ruddy bonds of subjugation, and the divine light that inspires ordinary people to liberate their suffering. And yet those who use a pen or a gavel to tell you what to eat, think, feel or say in the name of the common good, no more speak on its behalf than those who slumber beneath our flag as their neighbors are condemned for merely speaking their convictions.
George Washington once uttered the prophetic words, “It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.” Why else would a so-called man of privilege, besieged by an endless litany of defeat and apparent futility, lead 2,400 starved, ill-equipped and frostbitten recruits across the icy waters of the Delaware River on Christmas night as the American Revolution stood on a whisper’s edge of failure? Why else would thousands of young men, many who would never know true love or hold their own child in their arms again, charge the fortified beaches of Normandy to the foreign tombs of their impending deaths? “Why”, you ask? Because of freedom…that’s why! Without equal regard for all mankind, the dignity of life, liberty cannot endure.
Freedom is not an artifact to be dusted off at our complacent convenience or invoked at injustice’s greatest hour of need, nor is it a man-made institution to be hoarded and ruled over by the deluded whims of conspiring leaders. Those who are most determined in shackling the free will of others are often the least likely to abide by their own decrees; or the bidding of others. Liberty, without distortion or deceit, is a construct of God’s grace, the derivative of free will and the natural state of sentient beings. Do not believe for one moment that the same omnipotent creator who blessed us with rational thought and the ability to discern, would subsequently bemoan their usage or place limitations upon their inevitable dangers. Society cannot legislate human nature any more than it can harness perfection. To choose is to learn; to learn is to accept accountability for one’s actions. An astute government does not poison the fruit of industry, aspire to control the mind of human discovery, for only virtue safeguards America’s blessings against gratitude’s greatest foes: envy, enmity and apathy. No autocratic regime or glorious leader has liberated more people from the clutches of oppression and poverty than the divine institution of choice: to toil and prosper according to one’s volition, own two hands and unique gifts.
Much of the world, but specifically America, has lost its intrinsic love for freedom because we longer appreciate its most invaluable gift: opportunity. Rather, we’ve allowed jaded politicians and counter-intuitive agendas to pervert the word of God and our nation’s founding creed under the wailing siren of mass conformity. That is, man’s natural born rights are derived from God, and not rationed by the self-serving hand of government. On this Fourth of July, our 241st celebration of our lauded independence from British rule, if “We the People” bestow one final gift to our beloved homeland let it be this indelible truth: America didn’t become the most affluent, powerful and revered country on Earth because our elected representatives fostered endless dependency, divided the people into warring factions and dictated our every decision. The United States of America ascended to the pinnacle of hope and humanity because the work ethic and innovative spirit of her people, our love of God and our unyielding desire to be free, could not be bartered or threatened by any personality or party that sought to dispose of our identity under the entitled cries of spoon-fed discontent. Yes, when patriotism is branded as extremism and the Constitution derided as a dangerous relic, speaking the truth indeed becomes a revolutionary act; if not our most fundamental duty and unbreakable vow in a land predicated upon individual autonomy.
Instead of berating the choices of our brethren and rejoicing in their capitulation to one despotic will, why not simply be thankful for residing in a sovereign nation that was erected with the explicit purpose of allowing all Americans to associate with like-minded people while respecting the rights of all God’s children; if not, at the very least, to preserve the remaining vestiges of liberty and protect the founding charter of this republic? The further we allow the harbingers of hate, race, class and political propaganda to destroy our ability to reason – this last, best hope of mankind – the further we fall, both literally and ideologically, from perhaps the most transcendent point in modern human history: July 4th, 1776. God Bless America and may freedom, that eternal light of the human spirit, forever break the fog of tyranny.