In this battle over what is best for our failing economy and whether we are going to find another job or make ends meet, we have forgotten something so vital that our Founding Fathers are currently rolling in their graves. We have forgotten that our freedoms are not free hand-me-downs that, once implemented, are untouchable—we have forgotten that our freedoms are living principles that must be fought for and protected—kept safe from those who would rather see us slaves to them and to ourselves and our passions.
We’ve forgotten what our country stands for and what we must do to keep it alive. The Puritans arrived in the American colonies for one reason: to live and propagate their faith away from the oppressive rule of the English monarchy. The Puritans coined the phrase “Beacon on a Hill”—a phrase that has been repeated over the course of our 270 year history, from the American Revolutionary times right through to Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Those four words embody the sometimes obnoxious quality Americans have of believing we are meant to spread our ideals and Constitutional freedoms to every corner of the globe—but more than this, that we deeply and profoundly believe that we do—or did—have it right.
The American Revolution was fought on the fundamental position that we should rule ourselves—that we should be able to run our own government, a government of the people, by the people, for the people. With this in mind, the colonists set out to build a set of rules that was new and original, while drawing from ancient Roman principles and Enlightenment writers such as Hume and Thomas Paine. What resulted was the American Constitution: a collection of laws, amendments, and principles that have created a world super power from a country that is, in its essence, free.
This position was not attained by lukewarm individuals who took their freedoms and liberties for granted. American freedom has been achieved not by peace, but by blood, war, strife, fighting, battles, and victories. Why?
Because freedom is not free.
The universal cry of “I can’t wait for the election to be over!” is a testament to just how apathetic we are becoming. Yes, people still fight and care, but underlying that statement is the truth that we are sick and tired of being imposed upon by political ads and media coverage of the same topic. Can’t we just go back to car ads and online dating commercials? They take so much less effort. Even I am partly guilty of this. The fact of the matter is these same people are eventually going to start saying, “Does it really matter? It doesn’t really affect me.” On the contrary—even when you say you aren’t taking a stand, that is taking a stand.
Fight against the tendency to long for the end of the elections—because it makes you weak, apathetic, and narcissistic. One of these days, we’ll have reached a point where we don’t have any rights, and we’ll long for the freedom to raise our arms and take back the government for ourselves. But we won’t be able to: we allowed the Patriot Act to pass, an act which violates our Constitutional right to privacy. Then we allowed the HHS Mandate to pass, and it violates our Constitutional right to religious freedom. We passed the Patriot Act because we were afraid and the HHS mandate because we don’t want to be accountable for our own choices and behavior.
Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” The Massachusetts state motto is, “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.” The fact of the matter is, we must rather die than give up our rights to freedom of speech, of religion, of privacy, to bear arms, to fair trial, to a jury, to a lawyer. If we give in to an overbearing government who says we need to give up our right to privacy to keep ourselves safe, then we don’t deserve to have our freedoms: and in the end, the government is just going to keep chipping away our rights little by little until we have none left anyway.
Because we’ve somehow reasoned ourselves into believing that contraception should be free, we’re allowing our government to force religious institutions to violate their own principles and pay for it. In other words, we just voted our religious freedoms and rights away. Today it’s the rights of Catholics; tomorrow it’s going to be the Protestants, Jews, and so on. The idea that our government is forcing a religious institution to violate its own principles is monumental. Don’t let the rhetoric of women’s health and women’s rights whitewash the real issue here. Even if you are for contraception and birth control, the fight isn’t about that: it’s about government intrusion into not only a private institution, but a religious one.
Where has our passion gone? Where has our fight for justice, honesty, and independency gone? Have we really allowed ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of security and comfort—so much so that we’re allowing our government to seep into every facet and corner of our life? Government intrusion is the very thing our Founding Fathers fought against. And here we are, voting ourselves into it. We want the government to pay for everything: our education, our health care, our birth control. We want the government to fight crime and dishonesty, but we don’t want to fight it ourselves; we want the government to take control of our guns because guns kill people, not the person wielding the weapon. We no longer have a unifying vision of justice and freedom for all, because we’re too busy narcissistically attending to our own lives.
Fighting for our rights is an exhausting, constant battle, and we can’t take a break, even for a moment. The soldiers on the battlefield of the American Revolution, the soldiers on the battlefields of WWII—they didn’t get a break. Why should we, cocooned in our cushy homes and our cushy lives? Now is the time to fight–now, when we have the means. One of these days, it’s going to be too late.
It’s a hell of a world out there. – CB