It’s true. Freedom wasn’t and isn’t free.
Lives lost, homes destroyed and families torn apart. All were part of the founding of our great nation.
We are troubled, as many of you are we’re sure, by today’s hostile environment for those who disagree with each other.
We wonder if today could be the day to take a moment think about events throughout history — including the horrors of 9/11 — that have given us reason to appreciate the whole concept of freedom a lot more.
One reason is that America’s special brand of freedom is valued by the masses which helped this nation bounced back from the previously unthinkable attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon.
Ultimately, our country’s struggles from the founding of this land to today give us a chance to focus on freedom in our nation.
On this Fourth of July, the distinction between our revolution and so many other violent conflicts great and small is a point worth pondering. All too commonly, the only “freedom” at stake in so many troubled regions is the purported freedom to assert one’s own national or regional identity, one’s religion, etc., against that of another. But we still can appreciate the relatively peaceful way that American freedom allows those on both sides to express their sentiments without the intervention of heavy-handed government.
That wasn’t the case with America’s own founders when they rose up against British rule well over two centuries ago. Indeed, the early constituents of our republic weren’t drawn from a single national, religious, racial or ethnic heritage even then; needless to say we’re a far more diverse society today. Nor was the American Revolution an attempt to establish a new “American” nationality per se.
The Declaration of Independence was in its essence an assertion of the inalienable rights of each individual against tyranny. It so happened it was the English monarchy that, as the Declaration decried, had been taxing the colonists without representation, quartering troops among them and erecting a “multitude of new offices,” whose “swarms of officers” set out to “harass” the colonists and “eat out their substance.” But this was neither an indictment of things English, nor even necessarily of monarchs. It was an unprecedented attempt to establish a republic based on individual liberty — on strictly defined, inviolable rights — not some collective identity.
The triumph we celebrate today was not one of a particular religion, ethnic group, region or nationality. It was not merely about achieving “self-determination” for a group long oppressed by another, however important a quest that may be in many cases.
In other words, the American Revolution had little in common with most other wars. Our revolution was one of the individual asserting his rights against the usurping, coercive power of the state. It was about the quest for true freedom.
We found that freedom and along with it comes the freedom to disagree with one another. But here’s hoping that some semblance of civility comes back with it.