Last Fourth of July, I posted a blog entitled “An American Tory”, which netted me a response unrivaled by anything I have written before or since! This tempted me to run a repeat, as I find the lack of dialog on my other blogs entries to be discouraging. Apparently one must be controversial in order to elicit interaction. But after much prayer, I feel led to go in another intellectual direction.
Freedom! This word always brings to mind the movie “Braveheart”, and William Wallace’s courageous, defiant, dying cry. The idea of freedom is a universal desire, one of the few things men and women are willing to give their lives to pursue. America is the land of the free, and I am sincerely grateful for the freedoms we enjoy in this country. I am able to write whatever I wish in this forum without fear of government officials breaking down the door and dragging me off to prison. I worship God as I choose with whomever I choose, openly. I can criticize the powers that be with impunity. But did America originate these ideals? Not really. Our forefathers brought these ideals with them from Europe, and most Westernized countries, (these we consider to be modern and civilized) also enjoy these freedoms. We were simply the first to create a brand-new country from scratch implementing these ideals from the beginning of our history. That is what makes us unique, and our contribution to the other countries of the world who have followed our example is important and should be recognized. But we must not arrogantly disregard the courage of those who came before us and upon whose shoulders our founding fathers stood: ordinary men and women who fought against tyranny and formed the radical idea of government by the people and for the people. Even to state that we succeeded where they did not is more than I dare to say. Democratic Athens was successful in its time; England had its fits and starts of successful rule by law long before we came along. Our political freedom did last over a hundred years before it began to go into decline, leading us into our present state of affairs. I suppose that’s a better track record than many countries have.
I desire political freedom for all the peoples of God’s earth. But the problem with political freedom is that it isn’t enough. We are free to speak and write and worship as we please, yes. We are free to pursue our own interests without government interference We are free from governmental tyranny (for the moment. . . .) But we are trapped by our own ideology. Government “by the people” means that the people rule, and the people as a whole are tyrants. They are worse than tyrants: they are ignorant, poorly educated, emotionally-driven tyrants who form opinions and vote according to what makes sense to them instead of seeking the truth of a given issue. Unfortunately, what makes sense to an uneducated populace doesn’t really make sense. Americans demand the right to be heard, but at the same time demand the right to be free from responsibility. If we are to rule (and that’s what a democracy is about) we are responsible to educate ourselves as fully as possible in order to be capable of making good decisions. Instead, Americans seem to desire to be free from education. How long has it been since sincere scholasticism was a desirable trait in our public schools? Those few students who still desire to learn are ridiculed and debased by their peers, by our media, even by many parents. Those who spend their time in study are said to “have no life.” American students are encouraged to be popular, to excel in sports or other useless pastimes, and to scrape by in their studies. “Get a life” to an American means “entertain yourself”, not “pursue useful goals.”
A poll taken this weekend found that 44% of Americans do not know what we are celebrating today. How is it possible that nearly half of the people who are running this country do not know the meaning of the Fourth of July? Thank God true freedom does not come from government, but from above! Only God can free us from our self-centered laziness, our ignorance, our sinfulness. May God help us and make us truly free!