Verse Four of Samuel Joe Smith’s My Country, ‘Tis of Thee reads thus:
Our father’s God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom’s holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King.
In an age that increasingly seeks to usurp what is holy and exalt what is profane I found this verse quite stirring as we warbled it out during Sunday morning’s prayer service.
Is freedom a holy illumination, available only to those who have sought divine guidance? How quaint! How precious.As though a rational people couldn’t rule their lives and fortunes without the silly and repressive fairy tales?
That entire peoples or countries have sought liberation from oppression is not new; it’s as old as Exodus, at least. But this idea of an individual destiny and personal possibility used to be a thing won by individual might and tyranny. It was not a “given”, or self-evident truth.
The idea of individual freedom is only 200+ years old. On the linear scale of history, that makes Freedom young, hip and now. It was missed for so many milennia, and only in recent history did it come to be an Idea worth dying for. And now that is slipping past us. What is necessary for Freedom to thrive, or at this point, survive?
The landscape of freedom has been allowed to go feral and wild, like a renters’ unkempt lawn. Lack of vigilance reveals a lack of ownership. Our leaders have devalued the uniqueness of our Freedom, treating it like it runs on air instead of hard work, wisdom and careful accountability. They have taken the ownership of our corporate fate out of the picture and replaced it with comfort and entitlement and …indentured slavery to the State.
The parable says, the Shepherd cares for and defends his sheep, and the hireling runs away from danger because he has no investment in the life of the sheep. We’ve invited hirelings to rule over us, whose only care for us is not our eternal soul, nor or our temporal freedom, but the promise of lining their pockets with cash.
Worst of all, our legislators have mocked Truth right out of the picture, time and again. Spinelessly and selfishly have they awarded sloth by cloaking it with “compassion” and they’ve depreciated human value in the process. They have usurped the warmth and parentage of the family and replaced it with something so cold, thin, and short-sighted as to enslave an entire generation to dependence and slavery. But they’ve sold it as caring and helpful, so how could it be a Lie? Time and again they’ve rewarded the externals of race and color and tenure, and have failed to require an account of what has been so freely given and received.
Mostly, they have mocked the Truth out of Life itself and have offered… what? in its stead? A thin veneer of personal freedom and choice that quickly fades as the years progress.
Our leaders and public servants neither lead nor serve, and now tell jaw-dropping, easily refuted lies with the temerity of tyrants. The Lie is First and the Truth lags behind, trying to be heard over the din of the sound bite. Our leaders are footling creatures who know that nothing succeeds like success, no matter how it’s earned. Lie first. Lie fast. Lie loud,and Truth will die, one lie at a time.
Not to speak of the echo chamber of their lies, the incurious Media, as indoctrinated by our schools. And our schools, as indoctrinated by tenured liars, safe in their ivory towers of soul-sucking delusion. There they live and work, like vivisectionists of our culture, who find upon dismantling it that it has died on the table.
Like it or not, our country was founded on a moral Absolute. Without this vital ingredient, the concept of Freedom cannot stand. Lacking the sense of our birthright of Freedom and lacking the conviction that it is endowed by a greater Truth, we will lapse quickly back into tribalism and penury. Law, founded on that birthright and Truth will lapse into the manipulative and capricious creature it is quickly becoming.
Truth came before Freedom, and Freedom, that delicate notion, cannot stand on its own without it.
Lies flower, Truth withers, and while the good and the decent are vilifed as contemptible hypocrites, the selfish and unserious are voted into office on their promise of Free Stuff.
That’s how far we’ve fallen. From the sacred (unique and set-apart) heights of Freedom to the common flatlands filled with uninvested renters of the corporate weal, a land of tenured hirelings, afraid of the wolves now threatening at the door as economic Night is falling.
We are rejecting the Author and Source of Freedom’s Light as a mere fantasy. Out of the fear of appearing foolish, like some two-dimensional caricature of religion as portrayed by those (upright and pure of heart!) Hollywood moguls who love our country so much, we reject it all without so much as a reasoned thought of how it came to be. The answer is not as easy as you think. How did this fragile notion, so unique in the world, fall into our laps?
“Wait. Don’t answer that. Look! Free stuff!”
Long may our land be bright…
[Re-posted from Jan 8, 2009]