David Reynolds: What an idea!
Two young boys were playing marbles near the village green. Watching the boys play was a tired soldier in a red coat. He was captivated by their dog-eat-dog competitiveness. Both boys wanted to win their game very badly.
Being kids they had nicknames. One was called Peace. The other was known to his friends as Freedom. The soldier made a bet with himself. He bet that Peace would get the better of Freedom. His boss, the king, did the same.
Both lost. For a far bigger game was brewing beyond the green. And who else won that day not so many years ago? You and I. Everyone wins when freedom wins.
And so it has been in the short history of this great land that God has blessed. Every day is filled with events, both big and small, which shape our nation. And every day the same freedom or peace question is raised: How much peace are we willing to sacrifice in order to maintain our nation’s freedom?
Peace was a pleasant boy, but he had his limits. That is why he lost the game. Freedom has no limits. Yet, too many of us can not distinguish between Peace and Freedom. They see the two as one. Pray for those who are nearly blind.
Sure, Peace has a good selling point. But only one. It is the opposite of war. Peace keeps telling us that If we would only love one another this would be a perfect world. His game is to tap into his goodwill and have everyone share in the world’s riches. World peace is his goal. How he gets there is of lesser importance.
But Freedom will always win because he is willing to pay any price. Freedom is highly contagious. It’s the common cold. One day the entire world will all get it. Freedom is also a journey, albeit a difficult one. Yet Freedom reaches out and invites us to travel his hard road. His fuel? The human spirit. That is his secret weapon.
On Monday, on a day known simply by its date, we will take the time to appreciate the peace we currently enjoy. But the real meaning of the day is a celebration of freedom.
Our celebration of the Fourth brings us together. We don’t care about your religion, how you spell your name, what’s in your bank account or how you vote. But we do ask, “Do you believe in freedom?”
Freedom is the unifying force behind the Fourth. It is what draws together a heterogeneous country of over 310 million individuals. Maybe that is all we have in common. Maybe that is enough. Maybe that is why there will be no strangers in the crowd on Monday when the sun goes down and the fireworks go up. Because we are family.
However, families do not always stay together. They have a habit of breaking up. The American family is breaking up because securing the immigrant vote is more important to the Republican and the Democratic parties than uniting a nation. This nation does not have an immigration problem, at least not on the Fourth — it has a serious assimilation problem. The old melting pot that has served has so well has turned cold. We need to put a firecracker under it.
What else do we need to do on the Fourth? Oh yes, every Fourth of July we need to ask ourselves if the rest of the world is better or worse off because of us. Did those words signed by 56 men on a hot July day in Philadelphia change anything for the rest of the planet? Remember, they were no-nonsense folks. They “mutually pledged to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
If you need to think for more than a nanosecond whether our world role is positive or negative I will include you in my prayers, along with those who can’t distinguish freedom from peace.
None of the above is a slap in the face at our British cousins. They, too, enjoy freedom. They, too, have a positive balance of trade by exporting democracy, capitalism, the rule of law and personal responsibility. But Britannia no longer rules the waves. We do. Whether we like it or not, the United States of America has grown to become a world power. And we are a role model for the rest of the world. There is no need to apologize that the great experiment has been a success.
That’s it. Wrap everything up after the fireworks and tie it together. Carry it home. It’s easy. You can put it all in your head. For America is no more than an idea. But what a idea!
Column by David Reynolds
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