Like so many of you, I remember exactly what I was doing the moment I heard of the attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Like so many of you, I have thought long and hard about the effects those attacks have had on our country and our way of life. Like so many of you, I have pondered and questioned…how should we respond…what should we do? Five years later, those questions remain.
Now, I am reminded of a quote by President Thomas Jefferson, “Yes we did produce a near perfect Republic. But, will they keep it? Or, will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the surest way to destruction. Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.” Our freedom was not attained through a feeling of entitlement to it. Our freedom was attained through sacrifice, commitment and determination. That is exactly the same way in which we’ll preserve it for the future. No question… this was a wake-up call…a reminder of the attitudes necessary to build on the freedoms we’ve enjoyed for so many years. We have no entitlement to this freedom. We have no entitlement to security. We have no entitlement to convenience. Everyone seems to be looking for security. We have no security…we never have. Security is an illusion. What we have is an opportunity…opportunity to build on and enhance our freedoms to a level never before experienced on the face of the earth. But, in order to do that, we need character…not fear. We can’t be afraid. As President Abraham Lincoln said, “I think the necessity of being ready increases. Look to it.”
It’s been said time and time again…”freedom is not free…” and, it’s not. The price we’ve paid for freedom over the years has been high. But, the rewards defy description. We enjoy more freedoms and have more opportunity than any other nation in the world. The readiness to preserve it must come from the character of the people of this great nation. The PEOPLE. You and I. We need not whine and cry about losing convenience. We’re not entitled to it anyway. I’m amazed how many Americans feel entitled to these conveniences as a birthright. Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost the memory of real freedom…and, the prerequisite attitudes for it’s continuation. We need not whine and cry about losing security. We’re not entitled to it anyway. Our real birthright, guaranteed through the sacrifice of our forefathers is opportunity. Let’s seize it… now, to grow.
How did it happen? What went wrong? How did we get so far off the track the founding fathers laid for us? I don’t know, really, but I have a couple ideas. First, we’re sort of geographically isolated from the rest of the world and don’t have any really crazy neighbors wanting to wipe us off the face of the earth! I mean…I don’t think Canada is going to attack us, do you? Neither is Mexico. Other nations in Europe and Asia have had to learn to live with imminent danger from attack for years. Not us…it’s always been…over there somewhere. Secondly, material abundance. We have so much of everything and we have it all now. Immediate gratification has become our expectation and when expectations aren’t met…there’s anger, bitterness, resentment, and disappointment. But, why? Where do we get off thinking we’re somehow entitled to bring half of everything we own onboard a plane as carry-on baggage? Why do we feel entitled to cheap gas? Why do we feel entitled to just stroll through the airport and just get on the plane? Why do we feel entitled to pollute the environment with total disregard to future generations? The list goes on and on. We’ve become a nation of the entitled. Well, it’s over. The threat is not just over there somewhere anymore…it’s here. And, we’re scared. The founding fathers must be turning over in their graves thinking how they’ve left all this to a bunch of whining, scared little crybabies. Or, did they? I think not. The same spirit that made and built this great nation still lives and breathes and we are not scared. I repeat…we are not scared!! I am not scared!!.
Readiness… sacrifice… commitment are words we’ve attached to an earlier generation, but maybe the time for them has come again. The need for them has always been here, we were just confused. Confused that the Republic described by President Jefferson was guaranteed for all eternity. It’s not. Confused that our freedom was only demonstrated by material abundance for all the world to see. It’s not. We must look to it, not be afraid of it. We can’t be scared. It’s very, very true…freedom is not free…nor is it guaranteed. Don’t be scared.
Copyright Mack Newton. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the expressed written consent of the author.