In the Name of Freedom

The current of idealism within American history and spiritual life which cherishes freedom and desires to protect it at all costs is very strong. Freedom from oppression and the subjugation to laws made a continent away was the very warp and fiber of the Declaration of Independence upon which our country was founded. Freedom has always been highly prized in America, paid for in blood, tears, and the sacrifices of many.

Yet, much has also been done 'in the name of' freedom - wars have been fought, laws have been broken, the rights of individuals have been violated, land has been appropriated, and governments abroad have been overthrown - all to protect our freedom and maintain our national security. Today, we run the risk, once again, of acting on behalf of protecting our freedom in ways that do not further the deeper values that America holds, and, indeed, ways that trespass against certain of these values. We run the risk of limiting freedom 'in the name of' freedom.

How does this work?

It happens when those who love America can no longer see her wrongdoing as well as her virtue - when they can no longer see her failures as well as her successes.

It happens when those who wish to preserve America's freedom are willing to sacrifice the freedom of other peoples in order to maintain our own.

It happens when those who espouse freedom, limit its meaning to those who agree with them, and denounce, ridicule, or criticize those who disagree with them.

It happens when those who wish to preserve freedom through the exercise of power, discredit those who believe that there are other ways of preserving and protecting freedom - ways of cooperation and conciliation.

It happens when political slogans are used which seduce or manipulate people into thinking something that they would not ordinarily think if the facts were known.

It happens when the 'right to choose' which is the inherent right of each individual is limited by misinformation, disinformation, or other form of deception or slanting of truth so that a free choice is not really possible.

It happens when those who are foreign to our soil are seen as social, political, or economic threats, simply by virtue of being foreign, instead of potential allies or friends.

It happens when America as an ideal and as an entity becomes exalted beyond the bounds that humility would proscribe, so that pride and grandiosity replace the desire for truth, and the willingness to place America first becomes a call to power instead of a call to healing.

It happens when freedom and the desire for freedom separates from unity and the desire for unity with others. This partnership is an eternal partnership that must be maintained in order for 'freedom' to remain free.

For more than two centuries now, America has stood in the world, despite its limitations, as the 'land of the free.' Yet, true freedom can never be gained or maintained unless the freedoms of all are enhanced, both at home and abroad. This cannot happen through an orientation toward power, but only through an orientation toward a peace which embraces all.

The current of idealism within America that seeks to protect and uphold freedom is strong and must remain strong, for it is a core part of America's identity. Yet, the distortion of that current so that it becomes a call to glory and dominance rather than a call to unity and joining with others must be watched for with vigilance. For 'freedom' and 'unity' must remain in balance so that each can be preserved with integrity. 'Freedom' without 'unity' can descend into either anarchy or into the domination of the many by the one. 'Unity' without 'freedom' can descend into an obliteration of differences between individuals, and a rejection of the right to dissent. The true freedom upon which America is based must seek to perpetuate this balance and to learn to live by it in order that her true destiny and greatness can come into being. For America's greatness lies not only in her history but in her future, and not in her self-assertion of greatness, but in her willingness to embody the moral virtues on which she is founded for the benefit of the world.