“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
Those words, spoken by President Kennedy during his inaugural address, resonated with the entire country. Those words told the world what freedom truly means: being able to chose what it is you want to do for your nation. Rather than the dictates of the state telling people what to do, it is the people stepping forward. It is the people asking what can we do for our great nation, that gave us our liberty, to ensure the continued liberty of our children.
Today is a special day. It is a day to celebrate something fought for and won a long time ago in the United States and currently being fought for, halfway across the world, in other countries. Today is a day to celebrate freedom. All of us get together with friends and family and celebrate our nation and our freedom. But we have lost sight of what freedom really means. President Theodore Roosevelt once said “Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood-the virtues that made America. The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life.”
As a nation and a people, we still have courage and honor. This is evident everywhere, in the people who willingly join the armed forces, those who go overseas to fight for our liberty and safety, those who go out to vote, or to demonstrate for what they believe in.
What we’ve lost are justice, truth and sincerity; the other virtues which made America great. Justice is no longer applied equally to all. Truth and sincerity from our elected leaders is a long forgotten memory, a thing of the past. It is not even evident any longer in the institutes whose purpose it is to expose untruths and insincerity: our news organizations. News organizations have taken to blackmail to silence dissent and report only on what benefits them. We’ve become a nation of prosperity at any price, peace at any price and safety rather than duty first. We’ve made soft living into an art, even glorifying it on television through a multitude of reality shows. Get rich quickly is no longer a theory but a perfected strategy, which anyone can buy on late night television. Get rich quickly is the norm for our elected officials, sports figures, entertainers and business heads, who use it as a way to gauge success.
We have forgotten the words of Benjamin Franklin, that freedom at any price is not freedom at all: “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
All of us take liberty and freedom for granted because it hasn’t been taken away from us, yet. On the other side of the world people are fighting for freedom, to be free from those who claim what they are doing is for the good of the country. While they fight for freedom over there, here we are losing some of our alienable rights to people claiming what they are doing is for the good of the country. No one is doing what is good for the individual, or for our children. Few people can afford to retire. Most have to continue working to ensure the survival of the job creators, and to put food on the table.
Freedom is a chance to be better, a chance for your kids to have a better life than you did. Freedom is not making sacrifices so the leaders can make us feel safe. Abraham Lincoln said it best when he said that democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people. We have strayed far from those principles. Our motto is now “democracy and safety at any price and the safety of the job creators: the corporations”
To achieve those new ideals, we have become a nation of laws and regulations. Laws that are badly written and randomly enforced. Certain citizens who break the laws are given harsh sentences while others are forgiven for making a small mistake. A place where corporations can do no wrong, can never do anything illegal, but make mistakes from time to time and pay small fines to show they’ve learned their lesson.
Benjamin Franklin once said “Where liberty dwells, there is my country.” Does anyone know where liberty dwells these days, or where it will dwell in the days to come?