So I was on my way to Lincoln the other day, and as usual, I sync my phone to the truck audio system and listen to various music stored there. I have a very eclectic taste in music - always have. So I'm rolling down the interstate at 75 MPH past the Grand Island exit, and what randomly shuffles in and plays? A track entitled "Liberty Fanfare" by composer John Williams. It was originally written and conducted by Williams as a commemoration of the Statue of Liberty on it's centennial in 1986. It's a rather stirring and moving piece, that you can listen to here. As I thought of the back story of this piece of music, it sent my mind on pondering the Statue, it's implication and purpose, and how the very concept of "Liberty" in America has somehow gone drastically wrong in my lifetime.
The concept of liberty today has turned into something not intended by either it's own definition or by the founders who made it an integral part of our country. At one time, you were free to do anything that would aid the common good, not hinder it. Today it has changed into meaning "I can do as I please," no matter whose liberties my exercise of it infringes upon. Part of the problem though is that we cannot agree on what the common good is. Case in point: liberal Democrat policies have caused a massive spike in murder and violent crime around the country, but largely in Democratically controlled cities. and of course, in today's woke/cancel culture/"fact check" era, the internet is replete with perported "fact checks" claiming one cannot link a specific party with the lawnessness that goes on in major US cities. Well, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck...
A bit of historical revisionism I uncovered: According to the Smithsonian Magazine, the Statue was originally a Muslim woman, because she was based on the "Colossus of Rhodes" and some of the ancient Egyptian statues of 3000 years ago. Um, the Colossus was actually a Greek construct, and regardless of Greek or Egyptian influence and origins, neither nation was Muslim during the time that all of their massive statuary were constructed. The Colossus, as well as the ancient statuary of Egypt, all date well before the time of Christ, which is centuries BEFORE Islam even existed! In fact, the Colossus was permanently DESTROYED by a Muslim army in 653 AD! It would seem that history, like science of late, is being twisted to fit a political narrative, rather than informing us so that we do not repeat it.
Ok, back to the topic of "liberty." Liberty and freedom are not interchangeable terms. Liberty is defined thus: "the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views." Freedom is defined "the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint." And while they may seem to be interchangeable, when it comes to the concept of liberty in America, our founders put it best: "Liberty is the power to do everything that does not interfere with the rights of others: thus, the exercise of the natural rights of every individual has no limits save those that assure to other members of society the enjoyment of the same rights.” (Thomas Paine, 1792). In other words, my freedom ends where yours begins, and vice versa.
Putting an "origins" spin to it, as religion and the Bible heavily influenced the very founding of America, look what the apostle Paul says "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14). The whole of the Bible, it could be said, hinges on freedom that is valid only as long as it contributes to and does not hinder the good of society and others. In fact, the entire book is replete with example after example of people "doing as they please" and not exercising freedom to protect others.
It appears to me that any hope of restoring our society in any meaningful way hinges first on recapturing the founders' vision for "liberty" and being free. As long as it persists in being a "free to do as I please" mentality, our nation will continue to crumble. If we can somehow recapture what it means to be free and yet not use freedom to indulge sinful nature or cause the detriment of others, then perhaps there will be hope for our country after all. But for some reason, I continue to have images of Charlton Heston seeing the remains of the Statue of Liberty lying shattered on a beach, and fearing that this is also the fate of this nation, should we not reverse course soon.