Friday, June 24, 2005


We in the U.S. have been blessed with the fruits of our forefathers' efforts. Indeed, the world that has provided so many of these forefathers has benefitted from our great nation. The greatest benefit we enjoy, and have fought wars for, both abroad and at home, is the right to freedom and self-determination. This includes freedom of religion, speech, and association, all of which are under assault in this country, as we spill blood to expand them worldwide.

As our nation's power has expanded, so too has the power of it's critics. The freedom we practice in this country allows for harsh criticism, and we've gotten more than our share. The cost of our freedom, often overlooked, is our responsibility. The critics of this country have little understanding of this concept, short of "the U.S. is responsible for all evil on Earth!" What they miss is the human factor; that we are all fallible, even great nations of humans such as ours.

The responsibility we have to the world is the same that we have to our own citizens. We are "dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal," to quote "honest Abe" Lincoln. Ours is the resposibility to further the ideals and benefits of freedom to our closest allies and worst enemies, and everyone between. The U.S. doesn't seek to bring freedom to the world by force. Like George Washington, we must pick our battles, and lose some, in the overall war for human rights. Our ideals of freedom continue to grow in oppressive countries worldwide, without any military action by us.

The same responsibility is tied to personal freedom. The freedom we enjoy requires people to act responsibly, and further, to combat any criminal behavior they observe, by calling the police or other authorities. This nation is filled with Americans who daily accept the responsibility to make their communities safer. It has ever been so, and will always be. The ones who look away, or blind themselves to evil will always be with us, as will the evildoers themselves. That is the human condition, not unique to the U.S. To love this country less because of the actions of a small percentage of the population, or the even larger percentage who are ambivalent, is ridiculous.

Why must we be responsible for the world's, and our own freedom? Because it's in our own self-interest, at least. One could say it's because of a higher calling from God to do the right thing, but I'll leave that for a theologian to explain elsewhere. History has taught us this much: If not us, then who? Who will stand up to governments that terrorize their own citizens, while threatening their neighbors? Who will call the cops on the drug gangs in their neighborhoods? The answer to both of those questions is the same: the citizens of the United States of America.

Since it's founding, our nation has overcome impossible odds to become what it is today. Imperfect as it is, our history shows that our better nature prevails over the long term. Politicians are generally the weak link in our system, but the few great ones have corrected the mistakes of the mediocre majority. The will of the people is still the biggest factor, through our ability to "throw the bums out," or change our political leadership. This is both the beauty and frustration of our system. It is also why we need to keep ourselves informed, and to uphold our responsibility to freedom as citizens, and as human beings.