July 4, 2008

Freedom to Be….

Category: News — Ira @ 10:29 am

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“For what avail the plough or sail,
or land or life, if freedom fail?”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson
____________________________________

I can’t remember where we were going. Somewhere for the day with Dad, in Henry Egbert’s old ramshackle van. Maybe to an auction or maybe somewhere else. Probably around 1980-81. We were driving along the narrow paved highways that wind through the rural backlands of southern Iowa and northern Missouri.

My sister Rhoda sat beside me in the rear of the dusty old van. We clattered through a tiny, now forgotten village. And there it was, painted in large rough uneven letters on the gable end of an old garage. The slogan.

“Freedom to Be…..”

I saw it and pointed it out to my sister as we rumbled by. Just that one glimpse, then it disappeared forever. I never saw it again.

We were intrigued. Discussed it. Grappled mentally. Freedom to be what? The last word was missing. Painted over, maybe.

We discussed it some more. I stored it away in my mind and mulled over it in the en-suing days and weeks. It was one of those things that you instinctively realize is fine and deep and full of meaning, that you turn over and examine in your mind, and ponder.

We decided the slogan made a lot of sense just as we saw it. Freedom to Be. Just be.

Sometime in the following years, Rhoda, a self-taught artist, painted a small oil of the classic sunset, with a bird in silhouette sailing through windswept cloud banks to un-seen horizons. At the bottom she painted the words. Freedom to Be.

I still have that painting.

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“Freedom to Be,” by Rhoda Yutzy

The years have passed, and the mystery and meaning of that phrase still stirs me deeply. I have adopted it as a personal creed. It has guided my philosophy, my out-look, my world view. It’s not the major factor, but it does influence the true essence of who I am.

Freedom. Foundational freedom. To be. Just be. To live. To strive. To be. Whatever one chooses to become. Or not. Freedom to be grumpy. Or happy. Productive. Pursue goals. To engage society. Or flee it. To conform. Or be different. To participate. Or separate.

Freedom to be. Without which there can be no others.

On this day, when as a country we celebrate freedom and independence, it is fitting, I think, to reflect on that phrase once again. And take stock of where we are.

I appreciate America. All it is and the opportunities it offers. I can’t think of any other country in which I’d rather live (although Canada isn’t that bad). It’s one of the freest countries in the world. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be criticized.

For example, a few weeks ago a friend and I were discussing the situation in Texas where the state seized all those children from the splinter Mormon compound. As usual, I was raging against the abuses of arrogant excessive governmental power.

“Where else would you want to live, if not America?” my friend interrupted.

The question caught me off guard. Squelched my tirade. For a moment.

“That’s got nothing to do with what we’re talking about,” I answered. And I was right. My friend had just hit me with a red herring. Just because I despise state abuses of power doesn’t automatically mean I don’t like the country. On the contrary, it means I love the country and would like to keep it free as possible. To hold on to the things that made it great.

As things stand today, on July 4th, 2008, I believe this country is on a fast track to a place we do not want to go. Where the “freedom to be” will be a lost concept of the past. It will always be honored with lip service, of course, and great charades will be trotted out to convince us we still have it. But we won’t, because increasingly we don’t.

Among other reading materials, two websites have vastly influenced my thinking on the matter: Fred the Curmudgeon and Lewrockwell.com.

We are, I think, headed for turbulent, troubled times. Regardless of who wins the election this fall. And I am increasingly inclined to believe that it really doesn’t matter who wins. We’ll still go downhill. Maybe at light speed instead of warp speed, but down-hill nonetheless. On the road to socialism and serfdom. Where the tentacles of ever expanding government intrude into the remotest facets of our lives. And small-minded leaders manipulate envious mobs to enforce their policies of legal theft. Of transferring wealth from the rich to the poor.

Our money is decreasing in value every day. Prices are soaring. For raw materials, fuel, food. Our leaders seem deaf, dumb and blind to the problems. With gas at $4-plus a gallon, McCain prattles inanely about how immigration will be his adiminstra-tion’s top priority. Which is a flat-out lie, given his past record. Obama arrogantly refuses to consider even the thought of drilling for more oil. Guess he expects us to putz about in battery powered wheelbarrows.

Who are these nut jobs, and how did they get to be our presidential candidates?

Both bow the knee to Ba’al and worship at the altar of global warming hysteria. Both will greatly damage the country and the economy on that lie alone. So we’re bound for destruction, with either of them.

I don’t plan to vote for either one. I may not vote at all. Voting instills legitimacy to an increasingly illegitimate process.

I have become deeply disillusioned by America’s role of policing the world. We have no business stationing troops in a myriad of faraway hostile countries. Our founders stern-ly warned against foreign entanglements. We are entangled with foreign aid money and/or troops in about half the countries in the world.

Terrorism, I realize, is a threat. But increasingly, I think, it is a threat used to justify a great loss of our personal freedoms. We now cannot travel to Canada without a pass-port. What kind of sense does that make? We are harassed and brutalized at airports. Little old lades are threatened and terrorized by arrogant, power-hungry TSA officials. The whole airport thing particularly incenses me. The system makes no one safer and causes untold anguish and dread. I refuse to fly, unless there is absolutely no alter-native, and then only grudgingly.

Why is it being done to us? Why are ordinary civilians harassed so heartlessly? Only those in power can answer that. And McCain and Obama are both of the same mind. Nothing will change under either, except for the worse.

Of course, through it all, we are ruled by nine old people, mostly men, creaking about pompously in their black robes. Just last week this august court ruled that the Second Amendment means what it says, in clear English. Hurrah. But I found it very perturbing that four of the nine rulers dissented, and without a second thought would have dis-armed us of our constitutional right to bear arms. That is truly scary.

And the secular, utopian hack intellectuals will be back. They always return. They never give up.

Try getting up and proclaiming a politically incorrect opinion sometime. About anything. Race. Taxes. Global warming. Feminism. Christianity. The crime that is our public edu-cation system. Home schooling. Gay marriage. Whatever. See what happens. You will be shouted down and ostracized. Marginalized as a hatemonger. Charged criminally for “hate speech.” For offending those who heard you.

It happens. It will continue to happen. Someday, people will be executed, not for criminal actions, but because of words they spoke.

And don’t even get me started on the anti-smoking, anti-alcohol Nazis. Smokers are now treated worse than lepers in biblical times. Many a man’s life is ruined because he drank one too many beers and his breath test registers .01 over the puny .08 limit. Thanks to MADD. None of it is about health or safety, it’s all about control and money. Total control. And always follow the money.

In Pennsylvania, where I live, exorbitant property taxes are literally forcing people, especially older retirees, from their homes. You don’t pay, the state holds a sheriff’s sale and takes your property right from under you. Doesn’t matter that you’ve labored a lifetime to pay the mortgage, and now it’s yours. The state actually owns it. And will take it without the slightest hesitation. It’s an abomination, it’s unconstitutional, it’s not right, but it happens every day.

We are not free. Not as our founders envisioned.

I don’t know how to fix what’s broken. I despair that it’s even fixable. At least as long as we have only a two-party system in this country. I don’t wish an imminent collapse on the economy and on society, but I’m more inclined each day to believe one is inevitable. When all the silliness and stupidity will be washed away. And, in Bryant’s famous line, “Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again.” A new society reborn from the ashes. Perhaps in my lifetime. Perhaps not. But sometime, it will happen, and people who are alive today will see it. I’m convinced of that.

Despite the gloom and doom, there are some few positive things that in all fairness must be noted. America is one of the few countries in the world where the Amish and Mennonites and other separatist religous groups can exist in relative obscurity. Freely worship as they see fit. With few hindrances from the government. As someone from that background, I deeply value and appreciate that fact.

And then there’s the all important fact that I can still write my thoughts, air my discon-tents. I can rage and seethe, and post it all on this blog. Anyone can read it and form his own opinions. This freedom is huge and should be treasured. Sadly, even this right will be smothered and chipped away after the Dems reinstate the “Fairness Doctrine” so as to muzzle the voices of those with whom they disagree.

The country is flawed, but it could be much worse. And it’s still my country. I can take pride in the flag and much of what it still represents.

On Independence Day, I plan to relax. Post early. Go hang out at a friend’s house for the day and evening. Watch some fireworks. Eat grilled foods. Splash in the pool. Listen to the live band. Appreciate the blessings in my life.

I will enjoy and celebrate my freedom. My freedom to be, such as it is.

I hope you will, too.

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  1. Well said.

    What strikes me is this: “They always return. They never give up.” This is the struggle from east of Eden on. It is why “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

    We must not give up, either. God still sits in Heaven, that is, enthroned. It is He that created us free, and Jesus that can set us free. Nothing can chain the free spirit. Like you, I refuse the lie of pessimism.

    Comment by LeRoy Whitman — July 4, 2008 @ 2:39 pm

  2. Happy July 4! One of the most beautiful days Iowa has seen for awhile–almost perfect! Sunshine and “70 ish”

    FYI: On the Canada passport note–I checked into it this week, and the date for passports to Canada got moved to June 2009. All you still need is your birth certificate. The lady at the passport office joked about how many times the date has been moved.
    Thought I’d pass that on…

    Comment by Dorothy — July 4, 2008 @ 7:19 pm

  3. Interesting words, my friend, very interesting. Your thoughts are provoking, now I see where you release your feelings. Hope you have a wonderful and safe 4th. Sorry I didn’t get to say goodbye, but it was a pleasure to meet you.

    Comment by Luann — July 4, 2008 @ 8:32 pm

  4. Iowa has gone smoke free as of July 1. The restaurants smell cleaner.

    Comment by Reuben Wagler — July 5, 2008 @ 10:17 am

  5. Great blog! I feel too our country is headed for some really troubling times. I really feel it is all part of God’s end times agenda! Heaven help us if the fairness (far from fair) doctrine passes.

    Keep writing.

    Dawn

    Comment by Dawn — July 6, 2008 @ 6:55 pm

  6. Ah yes, For a brief moment I was taking a nostalgic trip in Henry Egbert’s vehicle, only to be jerked back to the harsh reality of the times in which we live.

    Great blog!

    Comment by Ed Yoder — July 6, 2008 @ 10:00 pm

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