Saturday, June 6, 2009

Of special days and freedoms

Many of you who read this know that June 6 is the anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, where the Allies of the United States and the United Kingdom, which included Canada at the time, crossed the English Channel and began to drive the Nazis into Germany, and further into the history books. As someone who has benefited all my life from their efforts, I'd like to offer some thoughts on the day.

Please note other nations involved included many of those conquered by the Nazis, such as Belgium, Poland, the Netherlands, and Denmark. Also, New Zealand and Australia were technically part of the UK/British forces, though they contributed, as Canada did, intact units. Also, resistance units in France were strongly bolstered by as many as 50000 Poles and others from other conquered nations.

First of all, I learned something today about the place of D-Day in history. According to one show on the History Channel, this was the first successful opposed crossing of the English Channel in 900 years. Looking back, I think that puts William the Conqueror as the last success, although there was a crossing in the 1600s by William III. Both of those invasions, however, were into England.

I'm not a historical expert, so I'll leave all of the recounting of details to those who are. I just want to share my thoughts on the costs of freedom, and the call of it.

First of all, freedom has a price. The first price is paid when freedom is first one. We Americans celebrate July 4 as the day to remember the first blushes of freedom here, and others remember other days. We use July 4, because it's the day most obviously connected to our Declaration of Independence, with the great phrase that "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." While we've since had to elaborate that "all men" should be understood as "all humanity," it's still the best statement on freedom I've seen. All people should be allowed to live, to have liberty, which is freedom with responsibility, and the pursuit of happiness. Note, there is no guarantee of happiness.

Note also the source of rights:the Creator. Now, Jefferson, rightly I think, didn't link this to a particular religion, though I have one I think is right, but instead used an open concept of "Creator." This is important. We don't have rights because our government gives them to us. We have rights because our Creator gives them to us. We have a government to help protect those rights.

Unfortunately, it took the lives of men and women to secure those rights.

Another cost of freedom is the battle to preserve it. That battle, unlike the losses necessary to establish freedom, has a continual cost. It's the battles that have been fought since our freedom has been established.

It's the cost paid by the men and women of the 101st Airborne, among many others, that jumped into France in 1944. It's the cost paid by the regiments of the Civil War, the sailors of the US Navy, and the pilots and crewmen of the Air Force. It's first a price of blood to defend freedom, and secondly a price of lives lived, prepared to pay the price of blood. Both are sacrifices made with great honor.

Why does freedom demand sacrificial lives to obtain it and keep it? Because tyranny is easy. It's easy to be so self-absorbed that you don't notice tyranny sneaking in on you and your nation. It's easy to be so angered by things you deem evil that you will allow tyranny to defeat it. It's easy to decide that tyranny won't really affect you, so just leave it alone.

Yet tyranny, in all its forms, affects us all. June 5, 1989, a group of people that yearned for their Creator-endowed freedom were destroyed by the tyrants that dominated their land. The people of China remain under the yoke of tyranny to this day, despite the heroic efforts of the people in Tiananmen square. Why? Because tyranny is easier, because the bulk of the people, despite the many restrictions on their lives, have just enough stuff to get through the day. They have enough food, a roof over their head, and medical care. So, why risk it?

That's a question that is often asked in current Communist countries, and asked in the past tense in former ones. It's easy to forget the lessons, the bread lines, the oppression, when your country has gone from long bread lines to no bread to stand in line to receive. When basic things like garbage collection or hospitals no longer operate, since the government isn't taking all your wages to provide them.

We sit a crossroads in America, and have to make choices to pay the final cost of liberty. The cost of inconvenience. Our liberty isn't threatened by outside armies today. The men and women from D-Day, through Inchon, Saigon, Baghdad and Afghanistan have secured that. Realistically, terrorists cannot take our liberty or overthrow our country, but they can cause us to surrender it. We have chosen, sometimes since September 11, 2001, to take the easy road to protect ourselves, surrendering our liberties and freedoms for protection. Yet that was footsteps on the road to tyranny. I understand that evil people use email, the internet, and airplanes, but to have the government read every email? To give the government authority to shutdown any internet segment they deem dangerous? To make a list of merely "suspicious" people that aren't allowed to fly? These things move us down a dangerous road.

Then we come forward to today, and again, inconvenience raises its ugly head to strike against our liberty. We find our banks, our industries, and, perhaps most frighteningly, our health care on the way to being directed by our government. Why? Because it's too difficult for us to find real solutions that fit the American way of life. Because we cannot risk that others may profit from things, and cut us out. Because we don't want people to have stuff we don't have.

This is where the problem hinges. We are now so enamored in our country of making everything and everyone equal, we've forgotten that liberty, inherently, allows for some people to rise above. Notice the three rights endowed by our Creator: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There's no guarantee that all will get happiness, nor anything else. Just life and liberty, to be free to pursue it. It's not a promise of easy opportunity, nor really even equal opportunity, but that some opportunity will exist.

And now, we're regressing, because we don't remember that liberty can be, at times, inconvenient. And that another aspect of this inconvenience is life with a conscience. Above, there's the date June 5, 1989, which is significant in our history. True, we imported many things from China, going back to President Nixon's normalization of relations with them. But since the early 1990s, I believe the rates of skyrocketed. (I am looking for a graph to substantiate it. If you have it or contrary evidence, post it in the comments.) Why? because it's good profit. Yet 1989 was also the year the Berlin Wall fell, and communism in Eastern Europe and Russia really began to come apart. Their economies needed a boost, and to this day could use one. Can you conceive what it might have done for us to import toys and electronics from Yugoslavia, instead of the Yugo? How about to have Russian workers making toasters? Our conscience should have driven us to deprive tyranny of our business, yet, instead, we chose convenience. We chose cheap, disposable electronics. Which put Americans out of work. Then we exported those jobs, not to developing free lands, but to a tyrannical government.

And now, we owe them so much that they are instructing our government what our national financial policy should be. We have lost that battle for our freedom.

We have depended on cars and oil for our convenience that we are tied, irrevocably, to nations that despise freedom. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, all are suppliers of our oil, yet they provide no freedom to their people. Well, Iran allows you freedom to be a Muslim or to be killed by Muslims, but that's hardly true freedom. It will be inconvenient to change our oil driven lives, but we must find a way. Or, we must find a way to meet our own needs. But it will be difficult. And we're fast losing our national will to deal with difficult.

What is so disturbing about this? The first price of liberty is always blood. It must be preserved through both blood and lifestyle, but it has to be won with blood.

Which means that, as we surrender our liberty, by considering letting the UN tell us how to raise our children, by allowing the government to make our health care decisions, by sitting at the table with those who slaughter dissidents and innocents, we are losing something we cannot get back just by voting. When we fund the UN Population fund, that finances forced abortion in China; when we buy oil from Saudi Arabia, that finances persecution of all non-Muslims; when we import cheap shirts from Vietnam, that finances a communist oppression of those people; when we ignore our conscience and the power of impacting the world with our dollars, just so we can make bigger profit, we are losing our freedom through financing tyranny.

When we take from those who do, just to fund those who don't. When we try to force people's behavior just through taxing to death their activities, when we seize people's property, not on conviction, but on arrest. When we disarm law-abiding citizens, when we break our promises to preceding generations and to our veterans, we are letting our convenience destroy our liberty.

And when it's gone, it won't come back through an internet petition. It won't come back with signs in the street or through whining on television. Glenn Beck won't be able to make it happen from his TV show, nor will Keith Olbermann. Rachel Maddow and Ann Coulter won't be the ones to bring it back. The ladies of the View nor the hosts of Sunday morning news shows will not be able to do it for us.

It will be that the men and women, both old and young, will have to pay the price of blood again to establish our freedom. Those of age enough will have to fight, and those who are too old or too young will suffer through the horrors of it. Our SUVs won't be strong enough, and our Prius's won't be efficient enough for it. Only our blood will buy it back.

Let us stop ignoring the lessons of July 4, 1776; June 6, 1944; June 5, 1989; and all the days that have shown that liberty is never easy to maintain. Hasn't enough blood been spent? Yet our lifestyle will force us to spend more.

To the men and women who have bled for freedom, we say thank you. To those who have lost their loved ones to wars for freedom, we say thank you. Yet I fear that thanks are not enough anymore. I'm afraid we're about to have to add to our statements the words "I'm sorry." "I'm sorry you lost your sons at D-day to secure the world from tyranny, and we gave it back." "I'm sorry you gave your life to defend America from communism, and we voted it in anyway." "I'm sorry you died trying to free your country, but buying from communists is just cheaper."

Thank you to those who have fought for freedom. As yet, it was not in vain. Let us stand together and make sure that it never becomes that way.


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