Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.
This statement was made by one of America’s greatest Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin. It is a simple statement but powerful. Unfortunately, it is noticeably neglected, unrecognized by the masses, let alone demonstrated by them.
Freedom is America’s number one asset. It is a privilege to be free and to live in a free country, not a right. Furthermore, there are no guarantees of freedom. Throughout her history, many American citizens have died to create and protect her most prized commodity. Others have died to get it by risking their lives to come to America. The freedom America has enjoyed was created by virtue, that amalgam of personal qualities and characteristics that are of an elevated, exalted, honorable and noble magnitude, qualities such as courage, sacrifice, selflessness, self-control, discipline, devotion, hard work, independence, honesty and personal integrity.
But look around. Where are these qualities manifested in our leaders and the public at large? Where is there a concern for freedom itself, not personal interest or personal agendas? Where is the sacrifice? Where is the restraint? Where are the discipline and self-control? Where is independence? Most importantly, where are honesty and integrity? In effect, where have all the virtues gone? Where are those people whose hearts, minds, spirits and actions are based in that which is noble, exalted, honorable?
Look around again, not casually but deeply. What are the core values that motivate the masses in America? Getting rich at the sacrifice of integrity sans ethics? Being famous at all costs, as if being famous were something to be proud of? The worship not of noble ideals but passing faces of movie stars, rock stars, sports stars, sex symbols? The striving for material excess? This is what we worship in America? This is the level of substance to which we’ve gravitated, i.e., sunk? This is that on which we’re basing our freedom?
Most people talk about freedom and love their freedom, but are they conscious of what it takes to create, sustain and preserve freedom? One of the greatest military generals in history was Douglas MacArthur. Regarding freedom he said: No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation. We are all aware of America’s military might which serves to protect our freedom from outside invaders and destroyers, but who is there at the street level of American towns and cities who is truly being vigilant in the preservation of freedom or even understands what it takes to preserve freedom on a virtuous level?
The freedom America manifests, and for which most of the world’s people clamor, wasn’t created by sensual and material indulgence, gratification, greed and selfish self-interest – those characteristics saturating and plaguing America at its core today. The freedom America has enjoyed was created by virtue. Indulgence, gratification, greed, striving for material excess without an ethical base and exorbitant self interest are not virtues. They are clear manifestations of the lack of virtue. And since, as Franklin stated, Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom, our freedom is being destroyed, not so much by external forces but by our own internal blindnesses, immoralities, improprieties, indulgences, gratifications and misaligned priorities. In effect, America is dying because her virtue is dying.
As the great Helen Keller noted, Science may have found a cure for most evils but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all–the apathy of human beings. How much apathy is there in America regarding the subject of virtue? Who cares about virtue? When was the last time you heard a conversation about virtue or someone making choices to be virtuous? Where is the local virtue school in your community? The sad reality of today’s America is that in the main, people are not concerned with virtue. If they were, there would be more openness about it, concern for its manifestation in our lives. More sadly is that people mock virtue, denigrate it, deplore it, deny it and consider it old-fashioned. Yet, from the perspective of freedom, nothing could be more, and will never be more, in fashion.
How can America be saved from dying? America can be saved from dying by having the majority of her people, her leaders, icons and role models express, discuss, promote and live lives founded in virtue. This is how she will maintain her freedom and her majesty. Otherwise, she will continue to die at the hands of her own making, and she will have no one to blame but herself. If America is not vigilant in living a virtuous life en masse, her life – her once beautiful, glorious, majestic, noble and divine life – will continue to fade, ending in a most ugly, inglorious, disgraceful, ignoble and damned death.
America, Sweet Soul
Richard Andrew King
Sweet Soul, lift up your eyes.
Your love of personalities
portends of your demise.
Great men and women seeking Truth,
in search to quench their thirst,
place principles on pedestals–
not personalities first.
There was a time when you believed
in Right, where virtue graces;
but now you’re sacrificing all
for the love of passing faces.
You worship Ease, not Principle.
Accept the base to lead you on.
Blinded by your biased greed,
you displace Right with Wrong.
Sweet Soul, observe your deeds,
for they are the reflection
of your prior, planted seeds,
seeds which yield fruit
exactly of its kind.
One cannot harvest oranges
after planting seeds of lime.
Love principles chaste and pure.
Personalities will come and go,
but principles endure.
Times will go on changing
with faces old and new.
Success, however, rests upon
principles holding true.
Therefore, beware America!
Your legacy lies in knowing
that the reaping of your future
hangs on the seeds you’re sowing!
Copyright Richard Andrew King
All Rights Reserved