Without freedom, what’s the point?

November 29, 2020

Did you or didn’t you this Thursday past, find yourself reaching deep into your soul, and letting the words “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” flow through your veins with pride and thankfulness?

Did you look the petty tyrants straight in their beady little eyes and tell them that you are not a subject to be dictated to, but a free citizen quite capable of analyzing risk for yourself and your family?

Did you channel Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or Give me death” and dare to utter at your own table in your own home: “Dear, would you please pass the mashed potatoes?”.

Yes, we are in the middle of a second wave of a deadly virus.  Yes, the death toll is crushing.  My personal circle has been hit, and yes there has been death in that circle.  No, it is not easy, and no the pain will never go away.

Yet here we are, eight months into this pandemic and the advice from “experts” and elected “leaders” is still all over the map.

A two-week shutdown to flatten the curve has turned into hap hazard mandates and lockdowns with not a one of them yet proven consistently effective. Europe once hailed by those same “experts” for its use of hard lockdowns is seeing a surge worse than here.

We humans are on one hand, the most complex creatures on this planet.  On the other, one of its simplest. Simple in that when it comes to times of the darkest hour it is family and faith that we seek most, that we need most.

On January 6, 1941, with Western Europe already in the grip of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan on the march in the Pacific, President Franklin Roosevelt used his State of the Union speech to garner support for the war he knew was coming.

But what elevated this speech to greatness was his “Four Freedoms” closing; Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear.

Two years later February 20, 1943 the Saturday Evening Post, via four weekly installments, put Roosevelt’s words into some of the most powerful images of the war.  Painted by famed artist Norman Rockwell reprint requests for the series so overwhelmed the Post that the Office of War Information took up the fulfillment challenge and by the end of the war millions of copies were hanging on the walls of homes and offices across the land.

The lone man expressing his opinion with conviction and purpose as the crowd looks on, the elderly woman, head bowed, eyes closed, hands clasped in prayer at a worship service, the family matron presenting to the family the turkey of Thanksgiving, and the mother and father standing over their two children as they tuck them in, the father holding a folding newspaper, the broken headline “Bombings K…Horror Hit…”. Each powerful in its own right; but when combined, a force of inspiration that would keep America in the fight.

At the time of their release World War II was in full rage, and the pandemic of that time (seeing a Western Union messenger approaching the front door) was just beginning.

Yet as gold star after gold star went up in windows across the country, America’s faith did not fail, the country held, and the four freedoms live on to this day.

Yes, we all need to do our personal part for the benefit of our fellow Americans, but our politicians also need to do their part.  Enough with the crushing of small business with no scientific evidence to back it up, enough with arbitrary curfews and percentages that do nothing, and enough with those same politicians thinking that if they just spread enough fear across the land Americans will sit idly by as their sacred four freedoms disappear before their very eyes.

With vaccines already in the pipeline and only a few months before we emerge victorious, what good victory if we look back and realize the damage from the “cure” was worse than the risk of the disease?

Just how many small businesses and lives are we willing to destroy in the name of “science” that on any given day is arguing with itself?

Are we willing to lose a generation of children because politicians refused to open schools based on arbitrary percentages and teacher unions political demands?

Are we truly going to allow strip clubs and liquor stores to remain open while church doors remain locked?

Those four freedoms that Roosevelt so eloquently laid out aren’t just words in a speech or people that Rockwell painted, they are the very core of our being.

We can either start standing for them today or wake up one not so distant tomorrow without them.

(This column appeared in the November 29, 2020 edition of the Joplin Globe)

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