FREEDOM…redux


(Mel Gibson as William Wallace in the movie Braveheart)

The other day while scrolling through various news feeds, I caught one story’s
headline that made me rather angry.

The gist of the title said something about Americans and their love of freedom and how
they really needed to let go of that love…in other words,
Americans needed to quit focusing on that little hangup of theirs…
that being freedom.

The picture of the gentleman penning the story was that of a non-American or
perhaps an American national at best.
And don’t start with how racist it is of me to see someone’s picture and
“assume” they are not American.

The dude was clearly smug, arrogant and all-knowing as he wrote a piece lecturing Americans
over their obsession with freedom.

I was really quite incensed and opted not to read the article lest my blood pressure rise up
any further than it has, having been on this lockdown now for three months.

And so I immediately thought of Sam Adams.

Yes, Sam Adams and not William Wallace.

Adams being that beer-making colonist and not the Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace
as seen above–

It’s just that the image of Mel Gibson as a half-crazed angry Scotsman who led a ragtag
army of clansmen while waging guerilla warfare against the British Army in a frustratingly
failed attempt at independence was just much more eye-catching than the benign painting of
Sam Adams seen below.


(detail of a portrait of Adams by John Singleton Copley /1772)

According to Alphahistory.com, Samuel Adams was a Massachusetts businessman,
writer, and political figure, known for his busy activism and his radical political views.
From the mid-1760s, Adams became the American Revolution’s agitator in chief,
to the extent that the British reportedly declared him the “most dangerous man in America”.

Adams, as a Harvard graduate, was no dummy yet he is more often remembered for being
that of a rabble-rouser and true revolutionist rather than that of a scholar,
statesman, or businessman.
And more sadly— he is merely seen as some sort of father of American beer–
as in the first brewing company.

But Adams was a ‘freedom at any cost’ sort of fellow—
much like our Scottish friend William Wallace.

Adams did eventually go on to become one of those famous band of brothers known as
the Founding Fathers.
His name would go on for eternity to be held in historical esteem with the likes of
John Adams (his cousin), Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington,
Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison.

Wikipedia notes that Adams was “a leader of the movement that became the
American Revolution, and one of the architects of the principles of
American Republicanism that shaped the political culture of the United States.”

Yet some historians argue that Adams may have been more of hot-headed renegade versus
that of a level-headed leader as it appears he was one more apt
to promote propaganda and mob violence rather than failed negotiations with a King
and his realm.

I like to think that Adams was more of a spirited revolutionist–the quintessential
example of what makes Americans, Americans.

A man who fought valiantly for the freedom that we Americans enjoy today.

Land of the free and home of the brave.
Home of the free, land of the brave.

Yep we, as a young republic fought, while blood was shed and lives were lost, all
for this land of the free…

And so I am more than perplexed watching our states…our states fighting
amongst themselves as well as their larger government regarding
lockdowns vs soft openings vs tyranny and oppression vs freedom…

Experience tells us that with more available testings for COVID-19, aka Wuhan flu,
the more available tests will, in turn, result in higher numbers of positive cases—
of which will then result in the scary higher numbers which we are now seeing.

Does that, in turn, mean that there will be more gloom and doom
along with death and pandemonium…??
I don’t know…

However, I don’t think statistics and charts will show significant dire straits
are in store for us.

Yet what I am seeing is that these new numbers are now steering leaders to make choices
and decisions based simply on fluctuations.
While we the people remain held hostage.

Does that make for good governing?
I don’t think so.

The one thing I know, the one thing for certain…
we are indeed Americans…we believe in freedom—it’s kind of what makes us, us…
be that for good or bad–

So to tell American entrepreneurs that they must shut their doors indefinitely,
leaving them with no clear picture of when or if they may reopen for business, let
alone how they are to pay their employees who also need to pay their bills and buy those
day to day items that help keep them going, is most vexing.

Are there those among us who are being stupid in all of this?
Yes.
So do we need to have safety measures in place as we begin to wake back up
and resume some sense of who we are as a nation?
Most definitely.

But to stifle our economy and our daily lives just to see if we can wait out
a virus is not the answer—if that is the case the virus will win while
we wither and die—not from a virus but from hiding under a rock.

And those who think socialism is our answer, as we print more and more paper,
which is considered money, money that is simply pulled magically out of the sky to then
be passed around like candy, well, they may want to go live in those countries who currently
live under socialist regimes to see how well that works for the common man or woman.

And as for bigger Government—and Big Brother…
Well, I think we’ll wait to talk about that another day…because for now…
I think I’ll stick with Patrick Henry’s line of thinking—
Give me liberty or give me death…

Happy Day of Independence

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4,
not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House
in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees,
the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.
You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”

― Erma Bombeck


(my little lawn flag, it’s just a tad southern in its outlook / Julie Cook / 2017)

Here are a few thoughts to ponder this day of all things celebration as we recall the
countless acts of bravery and sacrifice offered so freely by those who have given so much
for each of us to enjoy not only this day but to savor our very way of life….

Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.
Thomas Jefferson

“I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder,
as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence,
for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of
mankind all over the earth.”

John Adams

“The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent,
tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example;
to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you;
to yourself, respect;
to all others, charity.”

Benjamin Franklin

It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God,
to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits,
and humbly to implore his protection and favors.

General George Washington

Bad men cannot make good citizens.
It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains.
A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom.
No free government, or the blessings of liberty,
can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice,
moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue;
and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

Patrick Henry

God grants liberty only to those who love it,
and are always ready to guard it and defend it.

Daniel Webster

God Bless America?

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here.”

Patrick Henry

DSCN3476
(1940’s Political Poster by Glen Osborn / Julie Cook / 2016)

For all the smug dissatisfaction,
For all the protests,
For all the anger,
For all the divisions,
For all the disenfranchisement,
For all the polarization,
For all the blasted political correctness
For all the current attacks…

There have been men and woman who have sacrificed everything…
their very lives…
for you and I to be able to open our eyes this morning in a free country

God Bless America?
YES, you better believe it…
May God, indeed, bless America…

If my people, who are called by my name,
will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

Two sides to every coin

“If it pains you to discover that a Nice Man can be a crumbum, Tom, it’s life you’ve got to object to, not Percy in particular.”
― Ellery Queen

Give me liberty or Give me Death
Patrick Henry

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.
Voltaire

janus
(a two headed Roman “Janus” coin)

Responsibility as defined by Merriam Webster:
: the state of being the person who caused something to happen
: a duty or task that you are required or expected to do
: something that you should do because it is morally right, legally required, etc.

Moral obligations as defined by USlegal.com:
Moral obligation is an obligation arising out of considerations of right and wrong. It is an
obligation arising from ethical motives, or a mere conscientious duty, unconnected with any legal
obligation, perfect or imperfect, or with the receipt of benefit by the promisor of a material or
pecuniary nature. Moral obligation springs from a sense of justice and equity that an honorable
person would have, and not from a mere sense of doing benevolence or charity.

Freedom as defined by Oxford dictionary:
The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or
restraint

Rites + freedoms + liberties = responsibility.

Freedom to:
defame
blaspheme
belittle
mock
desecrate
offend. . .

The freedom to be satirical, to be outspoken, to ruffle feathers. . .
To irritate
To heal
To soften
To entertain
To insult
To defend
To inflame
To incite
To quell
To antagonize
To redeem
To be mean
To be kind. . .
The freedom to be thoughtful
To be thoughtless. . .

The freedom to draw, to write, to sing, to dance, to paint, to soar. . .
The freedom to be expressive regardless of what others may think or feel.
Will you inspire or will you be despised?
Will you be a bridge or will you be destructive?

The freedom to be honorable towards others.
The freedom to believe.
The freedom to turn away.

The responsibility to honor and defend life
Or
The freedom to take life

The freedom to dishonor.
The responsibility to respect.

What is your responsibility?

The freedom and responsibility to defend Freedom
Yet what then is the responsibility of freedom?

“All of Creation is made by the Holy Trinity acting in communion as an outpouring of Love and Grace.”
Excerpt for January newsletter from St Isaac’s Orthodox Skete.

“Give me Liberty or Give me Death” or everyone has “stuff”

“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.”
― Henry David Thoreau

Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

DSCN4599
(beautiful white azaleas in Julie’s yard / 2014)

Most individuals who we currently read about today in the annuals of our History, those brave men and woman who have gone long before us, paving the way for the life we all know and treasure today, have grown, no doubt, larger than life exponentially with the passing of time. Exploits and deeds take on lives of their own as the truth, history, fact and legend mix precariously through the ages.

We tend to think of such individuals as almost super human, void of the things we mere mortals suffer and deal with on a daily basis.

I think Steven Spielberg helped us humanize Abraham Lincoln in his most recent movie “Lincoln”. The movie portrayed a man acquainted with deep sorrow and affliction. We actually saw a man (albeit the actor) wrestle with grief and loss while dealing with the shared pain within the dynamics of his family, all the while as a Nation wrestled with tremendous growing pains.

The cynics among us can say that Mr. Spielberg may have taken liberties with the emotions of a man that we know only through grainy black and white photographs and the myriad of writings, letters, and documented statements regarding his actions and reactions. Yet it is the actual seeing and viewing of such actions and reactions, via the medium of stage and screen, that which we see with our very eyes, which makes the man, truly a man.

I say all of this as I read most recently a most interesting article regarding Patrick Henry. Our famous Revolutionary War hero whose immortal words “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” have cemented his fame and notoriety in the pages of the birth of this mighty Nation.

Not knowing a great deal of Mr. Henry’s personal life, I was intrigued by this short article regarding such. It seems that one evening, several years prior to the turbulent days of the Revolution, Mr. Henry was entertaining some guests. As everyone had gathered in the parlor for after dinner brandies and conversation, a commotion was heard coming from somewhere in or under the house. A scratching sound and the faint shrieks and screams of what must be a woman or perhaps bobcat. Appearing somewhat confused and baffled, Mr. Henry moved his guests to another room of the house where the remainder of the evening was quiet and without further distraction.

Was it a ghost the guests, and now reader, perhaps wonder?

Upon the departure of his guests, Mr. Henry returned to the parlor where he first heard the dubious sounds and proceeded to pull back a rug from the floor, revealing a small trap door. Mr. Henry pulls open the door, and with a candle in hand, proceeds down the steps to a dark labyrinth which ran underneath his home. He makes his way hesitantly through the dark and wending alley like maze. Suddenly the candle casts an eerie glow towards something huddled in a darkened corner. Cowering in this dark tomb crouches a figure, which at first glance appears to be that of an apparition or other worldly specter— but in actuality was that of a woman.

She is dirty with wild darting eyes. “There there my dear” the reader hears Mr. Henry utter, whispering across the span of hundreds of years.

The story now takes on a sad twist verses one of some other worldly shenanigans.
It seems that Mr. Henry was once married to a woman named Sarah– to whom he greatly loved as she in turn loved him. During the course of their marriage, she bore six children for the couple, but as the years passed, it was noted that her mental health became more an more erratic. Her actions became violent as she attempted to cause harm to not only the children and Mr. Henry but to herself as well.

Given that this was the mid 1700’s, in a young new land, facilities and care for the mentally ill were quite archaic if non existent. The notion was still widely believed that those who suffered mental illness were actually demonically possessed or were practicing witches. Treatment for such individuals was often more torturous then restorative with many patients dying in unspeakable conditions.

Historians continue with conflicting theories as to Mr. Henry’s intentions for locking Sarah in a damp and dark cellar. Some believe that, fearing for her safety as well as for the rest of the family’s, it was the only solution but to lock her away (shades of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights comes to mind). Others theorize that his reasons were a bit more sinister and selfish as he was embarrassed having a wife who was mad and wished that no one knew, or as few individuals as possible, of his wife’s “condition”.

Either reason mattered not upon her death, at which time Mr. Henry cleared both house and heart of any and all reminders of his wife, never speaking of her again.

It was not much longer until the Mr. Henry we all now know grew into his own with his famous Revolutionary battle cry.

This story is but one small reminder that we all have our burdens to bear in our lives. No one is exempt from the mishaps of life. Some of us may seem to be more blessed than others, living more charmed lives than others, but that is merely only on the surface. Chances are that even the most fortunate among us have had their share of trials, sorrows, tragedies, setbacks, struggles, miscues, and misadventures.

Even as those who saw the recent movie “Saving Mr. Banks” came to learn, that even the most magical among us, have had to bear hardship, often times at the hand of physical and emotional abuse.

The real story here is that greatness can and does rise up from adversity. We may either allow the circumstances of our lives to ruin and destroy us, or we can use them as a stepping stool, reaching upward and outward, working our way toward bigger and better places.

I have written often about the dysfunction and mental illness which plagued my own family as I was growing up, so I can speak first hand of its devastation and darkness, but I am here to also speak of the saving Grace and Hope that can be found waiting as well.

Do not allow life’s darkness to cover the radiant light that lies deep within your own heart. Do not succumb to the hardships and sorrow. It is all merely the furnace which is being used to forge, shape and mould the beauty in your own soul.

No one says that you must love these difficulties and burdens but they will tell you to learn from them and to use them for making not only yourself and your life better, but use them for making that of the World’s existence better as well. . .