If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.
Having a day off is always a welcome opportunity to slow down and reflect on God’s goodness and blessings. Today, in particular, I am reflecting on the freedom that we as individuals have enjoyed because our Founding Fathers declared and enshrined the universal rights of all humankind in the Declaration of Independence.
Today, unlike any other day, is when we as a people should consider the foundation of the “Truths” upon which our liberty is grounded. Thomas Jefferson penned these words in The Declaration of Independence:
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
This simple, yet profound, paragraph, captured the spirit and heart of the American Revolution and removed the universal rights of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” from the hands of tyrants and governments by acknowledging them as “unalienable rights,” granted by God, not the State.
This philosophical argument for the God given “unalienable Rights” of man, became the basis for the U.S. Constitution and the founding of the first Constitutional Republic in human history.
This July 4, 2013, these universal rights, and the underlying freedoms that we have enjoyed, are being overshadowed by a darkness, which is empowered by an ignorance and intolerance for anyone who would claim that there is such a thing as ultimate truth. This darkness is leading to a crisis, a crisis which threatens to destroy what we as American’s love most, Freedom.
Os Guinness, author of, “A Free People’s Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future,” writes: “Let me introduce the claim that American’s deepest crisis is the crisis of sustainable freedom by setting out a number of simple points that have converged to make is urgent.” Guinness then describes for us what he calls “America’s Glory and Supreme Love.”
I am going to quote this passage, in its entirety, since it captures, in a beautiful and profound manner, what is so amazing about the American experiment and how the blessings of freedom and freedom itself is on the brink of death. Guinness writes:
First, sustainable freedom is urgent for America because freedom is, and will always be, the issue of all issues for America. In today’s world, it is customary to assess nations in terms of the size of their population, the strength of their economy, the power and reach of their armed forces, the state of their information technology, the prestige of their research universities and son on. But there is a deeper classical way to see things: it was once understood that every nation has it own special character, its own animating principle, and can be understood and assessed only in that light.
Augustine of Hippo argued that the best way to define a people is by their “loved thing held in common,” or what it is they love supremely. A people can be judged as better or worse according to what they love, and their nation can be assessed as healthy or unhealthy according to the condition of what they love. Freedom is unquestionably what Americans love supremely, and love of freedom is what makes Americans the people they are. Thus the present crisis of sustainable freedom raises questions about the health of the American republic that must be taken seriously.
Freedom is so central and precious to Americans that it might seem odd, and even outrageous, for an outsider to challenge Americans over their freedom. But this book is not a sour foreign attack on American freedom. I am a long-time admirer of the American experiment and of the place of freedom in America. Unquestionably freedom is, and will always be, America’s animating principle and chief glory, her most important idea and her greatest strength.
But unless sustained, freedom could also prove to be America’s idol – something trusted ultimately that cannot bear ultimate weight. Assessing the condition of freedom is therefore central to the promise and peril of America in the advanced modern world, just as it was to the success of the American Revolution.
For one thing, freedom is the special glory of America, the chief boast of Americans and the central reason for the importance of America for the democratic project, for the modern world and for humanity. From its very beginning, the United States was blessed with a sturdy birthright of freedom. It was born in freedom, it has expanded in freedom, I has resolved its great conflicts in a “new birth of freedom,” it has won its spurs as a world power in defending freedom, and it now stands as the global colossus of freedom offering its gift to the world and announcing that, as freedom spreads, it will herald an era of peace between freedom-loving nations on earth.
Due largely to America, freedom is at the very heart and soul of the modern world, especially in its Western forms. In all the world’s free-thought, free-speech, free-choice, free-vote, free-market, societies, freedom is today’s highest virtue, its grandest possibility, its last absolute, its most potent myth and – with the power of love limited to the private world – its only self-evident public truth. How else are modern people to be themselves other that to be free?
Freedom as the dream of every-expanding emancipation, every-multiplying liberation movements and ever-deepening fulfillment is being pushed from ahead by the promise of unrestrained choice and unhindered creativity leading to unlimited possibilities (“infinite in all directions,” as the futurist cheerleaders say). Unfettered freedom could prove to be the Achilles’ heel of the modern world, dissipating into license, triviality, corruption and a grand undermining of all authority, but for the moment the world is still both thrilled and enthralled by the great Age of Freedom. It is the Western world’s most stunning success, and the United States is its proudest exemplar.
No self-respecting American will ever be opposed to freedom any more than to love. And it is incontestable that, in American history, whoever represents “the party of freedom” – sometimes the Democrats, as under Franklin Roosevelt, and sometime the Republicans, as under Ronald Regan – has always prevailed over any who appear to be standing in its way.
Let’s commit to giving thanks to God for blessing us with the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness and lets commit to defending these rights from extinction – as those who have benefitted most from freedom and to ensure its place, once again, as, “the special glory of America, the chief boast of Americans and the central reason for the importance of America for the democratic project, for the modern world and for humanity…”