Wednesday morning I watched a Tea Party Patriots rally at Capitol Hill in D.C. While I could not be there in person, the internet allowed me to be part of it.
As I watched this purely American gathering, free from violence and censure, my heart swelled with love for my country. However, this sense was short lived.
While I watched, the distinct thought came into my mind that “Frankly, none of this really matters. We can speak and fight all we want, but things will not change. We’ll all go home feeling better, like we made a difference, but tomorrow things will still be the same. It does not matter how hard we fight, things will not change.” And then this thought: “We actually think we are free.”
However, it is sadly true. We are not free anymore, at least not like we think we are or were founded to be.
In ways big and small, our freedoms have been slowly stripped away. A little here, a little there. This regulation, that tax, a new law to keep us safe, an executive order to provide something we “need”.
It is not hard to see how government grows and how our freedoms get encroached upon.
However, a lot of the ideas of what make us free. For example, I can, technically, still buy a gun. I can still meet with a bunch of people and express my frustration with my government. I can still start a business. I can still write this blog.
The sad thing is that although the average, ordinary citizen is relatively free, it’s just that: relative.
When my children have to get a permit to hold a lemonade stand, that is a sad commentary on America. When a gathering of moms gets told they are a business and the organizer has to pay the volunteers as employees, that is a sad commentary on America. When we pay nearly 30% of our income in taxes and some people still want to raise taxes, that is a sad commentary on America. When it is revealed the IRS targeted groups for political persecution, the NSA tracks all our phone calls, and the President of the United States tells college students they “should reject these voices” “that incessantly warn of government…or that tyranny always lurks just around the corner“, that is a sad commentary on America and on our freedoms.
We think we are free because we think we can still do the things that make us free. But it’s a sham of freedom, a weak imitation of ruling ourselves.
Worst of all, since we don’t actually understand freedom, we don’t recognize that it’s been reduced and taken away. We have slowly been educated to accept that what we have is actual, genuine freedom.
There is a scripture in the Book of Mormon that reads:
“And other will he [the Devil] pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well – and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and he leadeth them away carefully down to hell.” (2 Nephi 28:21)
We have been lulled into security and the devil has lead us carefully away from freedom.
We think we are free because we still have the trappings of freedom. Pull back the curtains though, and we find that the core is gone.
It will only be when we start educating ourselves and our neighbors and rejecting the taxes and regulations that enslave us that we will begin again to find the self-evident truths our nation was founded upon. Only then will we being again to be free.