Americans talk a lot about freedom, but do we really understand what freedom means? Generally, we think of freedom as “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint, but is that really what freedom means?
As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been reading through I and II Kings this week. This morning I read of Josiah is described as a man who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left” (2 Kings 22:2). For thirty-one years Josiah led Judah, but when he died his son, Jehoahaz, took the throne. He only ruled for three months, but in that very short amount of time, he undid all the good Josiah had done. How is it that life could seemingly turn sour so quickly?
I know this is not a parallel, but I am genuinely concerned about the state of our country. This weekend, many politicians are mandating hat we the people should not celebrate America’s Independence while nodding their approval for protests. It is becoming more and more apparent that there are two sets of rules for Americans and it is at the least puzzling. How can one group of people move about freely while another group is told to keep their distance to keep everyone safe?
The second president of the United States understood what it meant to stand for freedom. President John Adams, and the others who signed the Declaration of Independence, knew that freedom came with a great price, but if it was won there would be cause for a great celebration –
“[Independence Day] will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forevermore. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”
We haven’t always lived up to the ideals of the Declaration, but that doesn’t take away from the goal established when the Founding Father’s wrote –
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Take President Adam’s advice this weekend. Think about what it means to be free in the United States of America, cherish it, and celebrate.