Why Bother To Let Freedom Ring?
It is the 4th of July weekend. Tomorrow is Independence Day. It is the official day Americans remember and celebrate how our country came to be the self-governing country that it is. The American Revolutionary War put an end to Britain’s rule over the colonists and America established itself as a democracy, a free country.
We Have All We Need
My instruction in democracy came from public education. In first grade I learned to stand, place my right hand over my heart and say The Pledge of Allegiance. The words allegiance, indivisible, liberty and justice were not easy to pronounce, and even harder to understand. But after repeating those thirty-one words every day for the twelve years that I attended parochial and public schools, I got the gist of what the American flag stands for. Allegiance, indivisible, liberty and justice are important and powerful words. Words that remind me of the extraordinary qualities of our democracy.
I am grateful that I have never lived under any other kind of government other than a democratic one. I have read stories of others living under dictatorships, communism and monarchy. Those forms of government pale in comparison to ours. I remember how my fifth grade teacher explained to us that a democracy was a form of government that was by the people and for the people. And a friend of mine has commented more than once that although our government is imperfect, it is better than any of the other ones that are out there.
George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln are pillars of American history. These men set high standards for living. Their way of life represented the philosophy of young America. Washington displayed honesty and integrity. Franklin’s life showed self-discipline and courtesy and Lincoln exemplified moral courage and patience. These men understood their responsibility to live wisely in their freedom. Though imperfect, these U.S. citizens were not intimidated. They lived by a code of decency. They may be long gone, but still stand as trustworthy examples.
We can’t talk about Independence Day without recalling the Declaration of Independence, the document that states the rights and the philosophy of our country. Who does not know that as citizens we have the freedom to vote or not, to own a gun or not, to practice religion or not, and speak out or not.
I am grateful for the democracy I live under, and for its extraordinary qualities. As citizens, we are privileged to enjoy our freedoms. Yet I am pretty sure that the health of our freedom is reliant on the health of its citizens. We already have all that we need to be a free country, but maybe like Washington, Franklin and Lincoln, we ought to consider living wisely in our freedom.
Why bother to let freedom ring? It is worth it to celebrate the gift of liberty we already possess and to live wisely so that it remains.