Time to Replant the Seeds of Liberty
The story of the United States is the story of the struggle for liberty, freedom and democracy, from the earliest settlers to our founders, from Presidents like Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt to activists like Martin Luther King. And to countless millions who endured, suffered and gave their lives in the pursuit of that dream. They taught us that liberty is a struggle that must be won, again and again! They showed us that the struggle for liberty is a sacrifice because the seeds that they planted did not bear fruit until they were long gone. They redefined and advanced the concept of liberty to reflect the times—all the while making it shinier, more inconclusive and more just!
Sadly, we have let those seeds of liberty fall to the ground untended. We have failed to have it keep pace with the dramatic changes that have transformed the world. The world has become increasingly smaller and more interconnected, the world population has exploded and the pressures we place upon the environment globally grow with each passing day. All the while, the technological revolution which has changed and redefined every aspect our lives, opening up more and more possibilities. With these comes the responsibility for safeguarding the freedom of all people; privacy, for example, is being redefined, now that access to electronic records is increasing. Yet what we think of as liberty has remained immutable. Liberty is a cherished dream that must molded and crafted by each generation to reflect its times. . We have let liberty decay into a dry, dispirited discussion of laws rather than the inspiring dream and spirit it is. As we have turned our glance away from our ideals and toward our idols – things manufactured by people supposedly to give us satisfaction and happiness--we have lost more and more, the spirit of liberty. We have lost the best part of ourselves.
The great teachers and prophets have trumpeted for millennia the pitfalls of clinging too closely to the letter of the law. We have allowed laws to be handmaidens of corporate greed rather than protectors of the weak, repeating an ancient wrong to our own peril: "Ah, you who make iniquitous decrees, who write oppressive statues, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be your spoil, and that you may make the orphans your prey!" says the prophet Isaiah. (Isaiah 10:1-3) Using money and power, corporate entities have exploited the legal system to their advantage. They have whittled Liberty down like a giant redwood tree and fashioned it into a flute they play to cast their spell. We all cherish the words in the Declaration of Independence: "We are all created equal." Words that drove Lincoln and King---are hollow today! Corporations have a special status—they are endowed with human rights but do not have all the responsibilities! They are above the Law!
We are a democracy. We can vote. But, as the uncertainty of the recent presidential election demonstrated, the technical process of voting can leave some citizens disenfranchised. In an economic system dependent upon the market and driven by money, Americans today have the equivalent of corporate non-voting status. We do not really have decision-making power. We vote for politicians funded by corporations—maybe politicians should stamp a little corporate logo on their heads. With their special status in hand and politicians in tow, corporations mold us as they desire. Every day, we are "branded" with logos. The most stylish clothing boldly proclaims the name of its manufacturer. Redemption lies in the affiliation and identification with a particular corporation. It is as if the nation has begun to worship corporate identities, seeking self-definition not from within, but without.
Meanwhile, economists—modern-day equivalents of ancient high priests and soothsayers -- spread the gospel of the invisible hand and the ‘platinum rule’ of self-interest. We are told we live in a secular world, that we are free to practice any religion we choose. Yet faith in the spirit called ‘the invisible hand’ – the belief that all of actions in the world, they call it the market, is guided by an invisible hand. We are told to act selfishly in our own self-interest and the ‘invisible hand’ will ensure that our selfish pursuits will benefit all of society. Belief that the world is one large market guided by the" invisible hand" -- permeates every aspect of our lives. But its tenet of self-interest contradicts the teachings and beliefs of the great religious teachers and prophets sent to us. We are told that capitalism defeated communism and that its belief system is superior. As a person of faith, I refuse to subjugate myself to either. Any system based upon faith in economics and money is wrong, whether its choir is the central planning committee of a communist state or the board of directors of a corporation.
And when we turn our hearts to traditional systems of faith, and of religion, we are similarly confronted with scriptures whose meaning has failed to keep pace in a transformed world. We hear words spoken words whose meaning and spirit are long gone as they cling to the letter of the law. With each step forward of changes wrought by time they clasp their rulebook ever harder. Zealots of all ilk rule the roost, whether they call themselves conservatives or fundamentalists. They like their counterparts in the secular world, take the scriptures, whether it be the Torah, the Bible, or the Qu'ran and cite them text and verse like lawyers in a legal brief looking to make a point or win a case. They use words to say what they mean but have no meaning—they are dead. They are bereft of spirit and crumble like old parchment unfolded beneath the bright sun.
Time will no longer let us bury our head like an ostrich to escape the winds of change—we must confront our new global reality. Pressure is building. Hitler had to raise an army to kill 6 million Jews and countless more. In today’s world, armies are no longer necessary. A clever and diabolical mind, using the technology of biological weapons or clever Internet ploys, could wipe out much of humanity. The September 11th attacks show how vulnerable we are. We cannot build a technological moat to protect ourselves. Nor must we be fooled into thinking we can rule with our military and technological might. The lesson of technology is that it becomes, bigger, better, more powerful and gives more power to the individual whether they be a solider or a terrorist! We need a different solution!
It is time for us to readapt, modernize and reinvigorate the spirit of liberty to reflect the modern world. WE must again make liberty spirit—not dead words on paper used to control instead of empower! We must not be dissuaded by those driven by their own self-interest and material objects and pursuits claiming that the spirit of liberty never existed and never will. Such thinking defies the cherished beliefs of our founders and all those that gave and sacrificed. Each step forward for liberty has been a step forward for America.
For too long we have ignored the lessons and power of liberty. Set them free and you shall be freed. This is the principal upon which the Jubilee (Leviticus 25) is based upon: Set the people free, give up your land, foregive debts and give everyone liberty—all will be good! It is one of the divine principles of the universe. A principle which has seldom, if it all, and has only been followed for brief periods. But the truth contained in god’s words is unequivocal, unrefutable and enlightening. Consider the other remedies described in the Jubilee such as letting farmland lie fallow. Prescribed by God in 1500 BC. It is only in recent centuries that it has become universally accepted, although modern science does attempt to defy it. It took a thousand years, a millennia, before the Romans realized its truth and became the first to actively let part of their land go fallow in the fifth century BC. How strange and difficult it must have been for the early Israelites, dependent upon the land for their existence, to let their land lay fallow every seventh year—It made no logical sense, it was counter-intuitve and put their lives and livelihood at risk. It is only when we set others free that we will be freed.
We can no longer wait to replant the seeds of liberty in the United States of America! LET US PROCLAIM LIBERTY ANEW AND RING THE LIBERTY BELL AS THEY DID IN 1776!
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