Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Freedom

Monday, May 12, 2008

Current mood: thoughtful

I saw a really neat quote on the way home from dancing in Dothan yesterday. It was on a billboard, and -not- for a church.

It said "Freedom is not the right to do as we please, but the liberty to do as we ought."

Being the quintesential nerd at heart, I looked it up just a moment ago. It's a paraphrase of a Lord Acton quote. He was a British historian of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century who's actually known more for his political quotes than his historical research. At least to us average laypeople.

Anyway, the point is the above quote from the billboard (; It's something I think should be put up like public service announcements to drink more milk and stop smoking. Right there with the signs for not messing with power lines. Perhaps, if enough of the signs were posted, more people would see them-- and think about it... and hopefully take it to heart.

Because I'm of the opinion that the America that shows up in television thinks that being the land of the free means doing whatever they want to and who cares who gets hurt in the process. It's the opinion that we're "OWED" whatever it is we've set our sights on. Instead of thinking about how we have to -earn- what we want. It's the having that's replaced the striving for. It's not accepting responsibility for our actions--and blaming anyone else. It's the children who have to be afraid of other kids at school-- not about being bullied, or beat up-- but being shot and killed. It's the idea that disagreement should be met with hostility. And that the best way to get what we want in the world market is to make them do it our way... There seems to be a strong dose of "What we ought to do" missing from the daily quota of their lives.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying all of America is that way. Nor that even most of us are-- but lets face it, we're not the ones making the headlines. You don't generally hear about the good deeds and little acts of kindness... and I think we should. It may not be intentional, but when you watch the news, you're subconsciously fed that this is the norm... and I'm of the opinion we need to show a better norm!

An America with more patience. More personal responsibility. Where kindness, compassion and integrity are more respected than wealth and it's acquisition at any cost. Where the striving for is as important as the gaining. And the pride in a job well done is just as satisfying as the end result.

Because I don't know about anyone else, but for me, the things we get through our own hard work are valued and cherished more than the things that we get for free. And the power of helping someone else learn to do something for themselves is more fulfilling that doing it for them...for both of us.

So here's a nod to Lord Acton, who's words ring as true today as they did over 100 years ago:

"Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought."
-- Lord Acton

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