Dennis Campbell
April 10, 2004
Liberty: Too costly to attain to surrender so easily
By Dennis Campbell

"Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage." —Author Unknown

The above has been attributed by some to 19th Century British novelist and prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, but no matter who wrote those words their prophecy must chill every American astute enough to observe the course this nation has taken and seems bent on pursuing.

"The people go from bondage to spiritual truth...." America, contrary to what so many scandalously say, was founded by Christians intent on pursuing religious freedom, seeking respite from the heavy hand of the Church of England.

Their efforts to establish a nation of God-fearing people resulted in perhaps the most beautiful words found in any document apart from the Holy Bible: "We hold these truths to be self-evident — that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

So begins our glorious Declaration of Independence, authored by Thomas Jefferson. How many under age 40 today would even recognize those words for what they are? In that ignorance lies much of what bodes ill for America.

"...[T]o great courage...." The courage of the men who fought for our freedom in the American Revolution was beyond measure. In the face of unremitting hardship and tribulation, their endurance and relentless pursuit of the prize of liberty was remarkable.

"...[F]rom courage to liberty...." The result of their effort: Liberty as not seen in the history of humanity since the time of Solomon. They birthed a free people who changed the world, who confronted evil and encouraged freedom everywhere.

"...[F]rom liberty to abundance...." Has any nation enjoyed the abundance of America? Yes, our natural resources are staggering, but no more so than those of nations which have suffered the most brutal bondage. Our abundance is the fruit of our liberty.

"...[F]rom abundance to selfishness...." We no longer are as generous as we once were. Today, we are unceasingly told to look out for ourselves. Our self-interests too often trump our generosity. Certainly, Americans remain generous and giving, but our generosity and willingness to help others, it seems, has crested.

"...[F]rom selfishness to complacency...." The percentage of Americans who vote is appalling. Everywhere we see a complacency that makes us ripe for the snatching away of our liberty.

"...[F]rom complacency to apathy...." Parents are uninvolved in the education and raising of their children. Many, if not most, Americans fail to participate in our political process in any meaningful way. As long as our bellies are full and our beds warm, all is good.

"...[F]rom apathy to dependence...." Need there be discussion of the dependence Americans have on our government? Our renowned rugged individualism is waning.

"...[F]rom dependence back again to bondage." It seems a peculiar trait of many that bondage is more desirable than freedom. As Esau, they are willing to trade their birthright for a bowl of stew.

Can we today in honesty echo the words of English dramatist Joseph Addison, who said that "A day, an hour, of virtuous liberty is worth a whole eternity in bondage"?

When we see the forces of appeasement with their constant wail of accommodation, we must wonder how many of us are willing to stand with Addison.

Let us take to heart the prose of early American jurist and composer Joseph Hopkinson:

"Let independence be our boast,
Ever mindful what it cost;
Ever grateful for the prize,
Let its altar reach the skies!"

The cost to attain it was too great for us to so easily surrender our liberty, yet that is what we are doing as we discard the greatness of our founding principles for the rotting façade of today's intrusive, even abusive, federal government and governance by judicial fiat.

If we do not reverse the course of our ship of state, we risk giving lie to the words of President Abraham Lincoln, who in his Gettysburg Address said, "That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Sadly, it seems that our remarkable republic is destined to perish, lest those committed to liberty rise up in concert to restore us to our once-great ways.

© Dennis Campbell

 

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