Back in 1899, at the start of the Boer War (in South Africa), in an essay titled, “The Old Issue”, Rudyard Kipling wrote, “All we have of freedom—all we use or know—this our fathers won for us, long and long ago”. At that time, the British Empire and its influence (for good or ill) extended over much of the world. British “freedom”—at least as defined by Parliament and the English Monarchy—prevailed over most of its polyglot peoples, with or without their approval.
The British defined “freedom” to their conquered colonial peoples as the culture and traditions and laws that prevailed in Great Britain, modified as circumstances required for each group of “colonized” people, and graciously extended by the English King or Queen to make them “fit” British subjects. Kipling’s words, while historically significant, are both true and untrue at the same time. British “Americans” learned early in their relations with the English Monarchy that, while they considered themselves as having the same freedoms as all Englishmen, those same Englishmen in Great Britain didn’t see the colonists in the same light of freedom and as having the same rights as those colonists always believed they had.
We all should know the struggles that our forebears went through in their resistance to tyranny. For decades our Revolutionary ancestors suffered the indignities perpetrated upon them as “lesser class” Englishmen by the “upper classes” in Parliament (particularly in The House of Lords) and the Monarchy. Eventually they realized that their only recourse against the tyranny of the mother country was to resist it, peacefully at first, then with organized protests led by groups of patriotic “Englishmen” in the American colonies, and eventually, when peaceful means failed them, with the violence of armed rebellion.
These Revolutionary ancestors of Americans did win political freedom for themselves and for their posterity—for us. Of course, they were not the first people to battle the enemies of human liberty, for our patriot ancestors used the examples of other, earlier people that fought the same fight in other lands long before them. One well-known example to the “proto-Americans” was the protracted resistance against the encroachment of their independence on the part of the people of Scotland, who battled the attempted conquest of Scotland by the English Monarchy for many generations. Our ancestors knew well the resistance led by William “Braveheart” Wallace and Robert the Bruce, and were forced, ultimately, to do likewise. The inspiring “Declaration of Arbroath” of 1320 A.D. came out of this conflict. Considered as Scotland’s “Declaration of Independence”, it was formulated by Scottish Patriots who had resisted the invasion of their country by the British, and written down at Arbroath Abbey by Bernard of Kilwinning, then the Chancellor of Scotland and Abbot of Arbroath. It’s a long document, not totally accurate historically, but its pertinent lines read: “…for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom—for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”
But we need to know more than just the fact that our patriot ancestors won freedom for themselves and for us. We must always remember that it takes courage and dedication for any people to retain their freedom, for by its very nature, any government that is formed for the best of reasons, like I believe ours was originally, has in it the seeds of tyranny. Freedom is a very fragile thing, and the agents of “the evil one” are always among us, like the weeds in the wheat field that our Savior told us about in His Word. They are surely among us today, here in America. We see them on our news reports every day and night, as they pompously and piously proclaim how evil and deplorable are those currently in power in The District of Criminals and Corruption, or as some of us call it—the “Deep State”, or “The Swamp”, and how dastardly our President Trump has been because he wants to “drain that swamp” and rid our government of the slimy “swamp dwellers” who despise us and our constitutional liberties (and believe me, they DO despise us).
I believe that we Americans have always been expected to perform good, even great, works in our battles for freedom. But this battle between liberty and tyranny was not then, nor is it now, a purely secular one. It has been and forever will be a mostly spiritual battle. I’ve always believed that our God heard the cries of our oppressed ancestors as they called to Him, and He comforted them and told them great and mighty things (especially through the “Black Robed Regiment” of colonial times). He was pleased to answer their prayers for freedom, and gave His people the power to eventually triumph over their oppressors, for His people in those days glorified our Heavenly Father and believed that, “…greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
As I’ve written previously, our Forefathers and Mothers who established our unique Constitutional Republic gave us something that had not been experienced more than briefly by any people---a constitutional form of government wherein ordinary people, who were not a part of some aristocracy, could govern themselves and prosper. They gave us a society—not a perfect or flawless one—and one in which not all of us were yet free--wherein no one had to bow in fear before any oligarch—be he a king or a general (or a ‘slimy’ politician who seeks to lord his ‘authority’ over the people)—nor suffer from the arbitrary laws of those who had usurped power for themselves. These Fore Parents gave us a society wherein everyone could hold his or her head high and look upwards to God, not down at the boots of an oppressor. Our Fore Parents truly saw beyond the years of their lives, and looked down the generations to those alive today. They gave us hope, and freedom, and self-respect. They gave us the courage to right the wrongs that have existed among us at times. They sacrificed more than we will ever know to pass that heritage of liberty to us, in their noble dreams of things to come. My great hope, my fellow Americans, is that we will never forget this, and that we will never basely forego what those who came before us sacrificed so mightily to win.
Is “freedom”, as we Americans have always understood the concept, threatened with extinction, even in our time? Perhaps. It has been sorely threatened in past times by the disciples of evil who despised the very existence of men and women who refused to submit to the tyranny of their time and place without resistance. Those disciples of evil, who despise the concept of limited, constitutional government, are among us to this day, in vast numbers and exercising great power all throughout our economy and our culture, having operated for decades like “cancer cells” in our body of freedom, slowly growing in influence until today they are major “tyrannical tumors” threatening to destroy our body politic.
Each one of us measures the “conception” of freedom with our own yardstick. What is freedom for one may be license for another. But the concept is the same, and must be treasured and protected from one generation to the next, despite the denigrations perpetrated upon it by today’s despicable progressive lovers of “group think”.
Gail Goodwin reflected well on freedom on her website, Inspire Me Today, in 2014. She wrote:
“We are born with the spark of freedom that burns brightly within all of
us, no matter where we live geographically or what we may experience politically. Freedom is the opportunity to do what we want, when we want, and choose how we want to do it. It’s following that voice inside, no matter where it might lead and oft times walking to a different drummer. It is the ability to think our own thoughts and make our own choices. Collectively, freedom can be expressed as a small group or as a country, but it always starts within the mind and the heart of an individual.” (Emphasis added).
True that! Back on a Sunday afternoon in the summer of 2003 I visited Saint John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, and stood almost on the exact spot where, in March of 1775, Founding Father Patrick Henry proclaimed to his countrymen: “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.” Death did come for many of his friends and compatriots over the next eight years, as it has come for countless men and women over the centuries since, as they stood against the Destroyers of Liberty, against the Marauders of our Freedom, on far-flung battlefields or in the streets of their very own towns. But these “destroyers and marauders” don’t always threaten our liberties with weapons of violence. Today their threats are exercised with the warfare of serpent’s tongues and with both subtle and bold lies and vague inuendos in the realms of electronic media and newsprint. But their threats to our liberties are just as dangerous as were (and might again be) those posed by dictatorial enemies with vast armies.
Patrick Henry and his fellow Revolutionary Founders realized that freedom would have to be purchased at a high price--- that it was not then, nor ever will be—free. And they DID pay that high price, both for their own liberties, and for OURS! President John Quincy Adams left us words that should pierce the hearts of all Americans unto the farthest generations, when he said: “You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.” That’s my hope, also. I pray that my fellow Americans, and indeed anyone who reads these words anywhere, will value their liberty just as they did, and resolve to do likewise if necessary, because often throughout the annals of history the freedom once possessed by a people was lost to them, and a long and painful struggle had to be endured to re-earn it. That determination is what it has always taken, and always will take, to nurture the concepts of human liberty that we Americans profess to believe, and which we’d like to transmit to our farthest posterity. May we all be up to that task!