Freedom is a noble word. It is the right to think, speak, and act without any restraint of government; not subject to the control or domination of another; and not imprisoned or held captive. This is most certainly true. But America was not built upon the dream of merely unfettered liberty. It was built upon the restraint of conscience, for the pursuit of virtue, and for noble purpose and not squandered on self-centered desire. The exercise of freedom was meant to be practiced by a moral people whose shared values and goals of betterment of life and the human condition would be unrestrained and unfettered by the domination of government and the control of another. It has worked best when the people who claim this freedom also bore the responsibility not only for its defense but for its exercise for common good as well as individual good.
We who live in the land of the free and the home of the brave are being ever more threatened not by terrorism or external enemy but by our own capitulation to the enslavement created by unrestrained desire. There is a very real threat to us not from outside our borders but from within our hearts as we have increasingly pursued freedom for individual expression of what is base, vulgar, and self-centered. The greatest danger to us is becoming self-serving and self-indulgent people who use our freedom as mere license to justify the raw and unfiltered expression of our desires.
Marriage and family are the building blocks of a healthy society and ours is threatened by marriages and families under threat not by those who want to control us but by our own refusal to accept responsibility, to act morally, and to use freedom for service to those whom we love. This cannot simply be blamed upon those who would redefine marriage to a temporary consensual arrangement of desire for any and all who choose it. No, long before the courts decided to change the definition of marriage we had all participated in this destruction through the dream of pure sexual freedom, the freedom to end marriage on a whim without blame or fault to anyone, and the exchange of spouses like a change of clothing -- without concern even for the children who call them mom and dad.
We treat possessions with little care since we can always purchase something new. Worse than this is the fact that we treat children as if they were possessions designed to increase our own happiness. So we discard lives that come at inconvenient times and we sacrifice the child for our own failures to act responsibly. We have come to see children as a burden we are not sure we want to suffer so many choose to remain childless in marriage. Personal pleasure has become the right rewritten into our constitution and those who prevent us from pursuing or achieving this personal pleasure are the greatest enemies of modern society.
Business and entrepreneurship flourished in this land because people took personal responsibility for themselves and for their actions. We are threatened less by enemies outside than by our own refusal to accept any complicity for the ignorance and poor choices we have made. In a culture of victims the most flourishing business is the pursuit of a scapegoat and the compensation of those who claim to have been harmed. Who can watch the TV without seeing ad after ad compelling us to pick up the phone and call this lawyer or that to see if we may be entitled to some compensation? As much as this has fueled a personal weakness in us as people, it has the power to cripple the American spirit and end the hope of a better life for our children.
As we eat our hamburgers and hotdogs and sit on lawn chairs and visit the theme parks and watch the fireworks this 4th of July, we ought to take at least a moment to consider the freedom that cost so many so much, consider the responsibility that accompanies this freedom, consider the God whose generosity has so lavishly been showed upon this land and this people, and renew our commitment neither to squander this heritage nor to pass it on in worse shape than we received it to those who come after us.
- Let us remember that freedom is never free, that the constraint of government or foreign power does not mean a refusal to be guided by alert conscience, moral goodness, and virtue.
- Let us delight in the American dream that goes on even in the face terrorism, economic threat, natural disaster, and uncertainty about the future only because we refuse to abandon personal responsibility and act as victims.
- Let us work to keep us from bitterness and anger and strive to be not simply free people but people who use their freedom for noble purpose -- protecting the weak and vulnerable and creating an atmosphere where all will find the opportunity to thrive.
- Let us recover the noble virtues and common morality that enabled those from different cultures and of different ethnicity to be woven together into a common fabric of people, preserving our identities while learning the new identity as American people.