When our ancestors came to this continent from the old world, whether from one country or another, most of them came seeking freedom. There were those who came for riches, but most of the hard-working, laboring class came for freedom of one sort or another.

In all the countries of the old world, the class system was firmly entrenched. You didn’t move from class to class. Even if you were a lazy slug, your countrymen treated you according to your class, meaning men of honor and good character bowed down to the most worthless of the upperclass.

When our ancestors came here, they brought that system with them. But in this land there was a difference: the continent was huge, and a courageous, hard-worker could go elsewhere if he wanted. He didn’t have to submit to servitude. Even if he had come as a bond servant, meaning he would serve the man who paid his passage to this country, that was for a finite period of time. When he had paid for his passage with a period of servitude, he became a free man.

Now he could worship or refuse to worship, as he chose, because the religious tyrants were elsewhere. The Pilgrims came here for religious freedom and to bring Christianity to the Indians. They had been persecuted, including imprisoned, tortured and executed for their beliefs in the old countries of Europe, now they were free.

What have we done with that freedom? Do we still value it? Or have we allowed those who are, or want to be, our leaders to convince us that healthcare, childcare, school loans, big houses, expensive cars and money are what our citizenship is all about?

In a few short words, have we abandoned the goals our ancestors valued? Do we still teach our children that this is a country like no other on earth? Do we remember to tell them that some of their ancestors died to bring them citizenship in this free country? Do we make them understand that they must not only fight to preserve their freedom when necessary, but they must live according to the precepts required to retain that freedom?

There are certain behaviors, the indulgence in which precludes the maintenance of freedom: intemperance, laziness, failure to value that freedom and downright wickedness. In short, freedom is our reward for struggling to be a virtuous people, a diligent people, and a grateful people. When we cease to be these things, when we cease even to struggle to be these things, our very wickedness will forge our fetters.

Until next time,

Return to the Neighborhood.

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  1. ... on September 11, 2008 at 3:18 AM