A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
This July Fourth America celebrates her 236 birthday. To modern man, 236 years sounds like a long time. Its not. As the lifetimes of northern and western countries go, America is still a child, an infant, even.
That used to be a comforting thought. No more. Given America's suicidal tendencies, it would seem America, as a country, is not inclined to grow much older.
Modern Americans have no resemblance to the Americans who carved this nation from a wilderness and then placed their lives, their sacred honor, their fortunes, everything they had or hoped to have on the alter of freedom to create not just a country, but a sovereign nation of free people where freedom and liberty would be honored, cherished, and protected forever.
That was then. This is now.
I have come to believe that every generation ought to have to fight for its freedom and liberty.
There was an "old saying" that said something like this: "They know the price of everything but the VALUE of nothing." I think that aptly describes America today. Well, maybe not. I hesitate here because I wonder if Americans REALLY know the "COST" of freedom. The last generation of Americans who actually put their lives on the line for the freedom of their homeland is about gone now. THEY know the cost and the value. But as they die off, their influence on the generations following them is dying with them.
I think, collectively, we Americans have simply forgotten the cost of our freedom. I believe that is why we value it so cheaply. It's not DEAR to us any longer.
The last quotable President the United States had was Ronald Reagan. One of the quotes we remember from Reagan was this: "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."
Look at the last six words of that quote from Reagan: " ... for them to do the same."
Maintaining freedom is a constant struggle. It is a struggle in which each generation must engage. If a single generation , for whatever reason, fails in its duty to the country, we lose our freedom.
Now, I ask you to remember the "flower children," the "hippies" of the 1960's who now populate our government, our academia, even the pulpits of our land, and I ask ... did they pick up the mantle of the generation before them ... or not?
"A chain is only as strong as its weakest link" and THAT generation of Americans was, and remains, (in my opinion) the weakest link in the freedom chain forged by every preceding generation of Americans dating back to at least Valley Forge.
There is nothing quite so distressing, and, yes, unforgivable, as a child refusing to accept responsibility for his actions -- and -- shirking his duty. Thus did the single rotten apple ruin the entire barrel.
America is still paying the price for the lapse in the duty and responsibility of that generation. The lasting damage of that generation has brought inestimable weakness to America. The influence of their pustulant agents reaches into the very Oval Office of the US government today and their toxicity to freedom has spread through our national legislature with the corrosive nature of battery acid. America will never completely recover.
I have never been a great admirer of President John F. Kennedy. But -- even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Kennedy DID make a remark back in the early sixties that struck a cord with me. He said: "The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission."
Consider JFK's remark (above) in today's setting and one must wonder whether it still would apply. Shocking? Not really. This is a far different America than the America of five decades ago.
Freedom, I think, is actually frightening to some Americans today. They prefer, instead, to be less free and be "protected." They don't seem to comprehend that one's "protectors" are often one's jailors, as well.
It would seem many Americans cannot bear the thought of severing the umbilical cord and taking responsibility for their own lives -- and in doing so -- their own freedom. Just as troubling is their slacking the responsibility they have, as Americans, to ensure the freedom of their countrymen, as well. Quite frankly, they are afraid.
A former First Lady of the USA, Eleanor Roosevelt once said: "Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect."
Mrs. Roosevelt's remark comes very close to something Sigmund Freud said: "Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility."
That is a powerful statement Mr. Freud made. BUT it is even more to the point today than when he uttered it well over sixty years ago.
I make no apologies for my near constant promotion of freedom. I am convinced, you see, that without freedom -- nothing else matters. Freedom INSURES everything else. Lose freedom and we've lost everything.
"Oh," but some argue, "America is a democracy, and democracy insures freedom." Not so, I would counter! If anything, democracy is, at best, a shield for freedom, but, freedom is the sword that defends democracy.
There has been a full frontal assault on freedom in America since January 20th, 2009. The electorate placed the people of America into the hands of "statists." In November of 2008, democracy -- as the shield of freedom -- failed. Since that fateful day, we have seen our freedom both collectively, as a nation, and our individual liberty as well, eroded at an alarming rate. There can be no doubt that the future of Americans as a free people is now in real jeopardy. There is grave concern amongst the older generations as to whether freedom can be saved -- at all. America has gone from free to formerly free at blinding speed. Its decent was stunning.
We are now a "formerly free" country. There is no guarantee that we will ever be free again.
Only about half of all Americans want to be free. At the moment, they are in the ascendancy. The election this coming November will decide whether we become the "People's Democratic Republic of America" or if we maintain our tenuous hold on freedom.
So, how do I call it? 50/50 -- at best.
J. D. Longstreet