If you were asked what the problem with America was, what would you say? Immorality? Debt? Leadership? While these are all good answers to the question, perhaps there is a deeper issue.
Could it be that these are merely symptoms of a larger problem?
Imagine you are piloting a Cozy Mark IV. In your cockpit, you have red flashing lights with that annoying alarm that blares continuously. This is not a problem, but rather a symptom of a problem.
Now, you can smash the light and disable the alarm so that it leaves you alone, and that just might give you some relief. However, unless you find and fix the root of the problem, you are in grave danger.
A Deeper Problem
This article does not seek to convince you that we have a problem. That, unfortunately, is fairly obvious.
This article will explore the possibility of a deeper problem. “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.” -Benjamin Franklin
Before we examine the root of the problem, let us turn our attention to
the Foundation of Freedom. Freedom is defined by Noah Webster in his 1828 Dictionary as, “A state of exemption from the power or control of another.”
Consider this in conjunction with the words of Abraham Lincoln when he said that “freedom is not the right to do what we want, but what we ought.”
For freedom to prosper, it requires a people of virtue. It requires a people that is governed by a higher standard of morality, for only the lawless have need of the law.
Virtue, though, is not a phenomenon of the many, but of individuals. Freedom, then, must begin in individuals.
You may ask, “How does Virtuousness lead to freedom?”
The Power of Virtue
Virtue, is doing what’s right for others. Virtue is a lifestyle that says that people are more important than personal pleasures.
Some examples of the by-product of virtue include selflessness, honesty, fairness, forgiveness, respect…etc. These are each character traits that deal with putting others before oneself. These signal the presence of virtue in an individual.
When an individual lives by Virtue, their life no longer revolves around them. They choose kindness over pride, charity over wealth, honesty over deceit, forgiveness over grudges, respect over criticism, and love over self-love. They give of their time to help others. They give of their resources to benefit others. They give of their own.
Why? Because self-gratification is a goal that will never be accomplished.
Consider the words of Ralph Waldo Emmerson: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emmerson first stated that the purpose of life was NOT to be happy. Life is not about what you can get out of it. He then finished with the idea that this lifestyle, one of usefulness, honor, and compassion, is a life well lived.
John Holmes said that, “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
The Emptiness of Pleasure
Hedonism, the lifestyle of self-gratification, says that the pursuit of Happiness and pleasure is the highest principle to live by. Hedonism is a dead end street. One will never have enough, or even be enough to satiate one’s thirst. They are captive to their own desires.
Surely we have seen this in our own lives. Try eating your favorite food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day of the week, every week of the year. How long will it maintain its position as your favorite food?
Regardless of the current standing of an item, activity, or consumable, it will eventually lose its luster, and one will be forced to set out and discover a new source of pleasure.
Notice, however, those who live, not for themselves, but for those around them. They have found Freedom. They have escaped the confines of a dominating desire. Their lives are not spent in desperation, searching for a new pleasure.
Winston Churchill said this, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Ben Carson stated a similar sentiment when he said, “Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.”
Living a liberating life is possible only through giving.
Would you like to know how to preserve Freedom? Would you like for America to remain one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all? We must begin, in ourselves, with a life of virtue. Because Virtue is the foundation of Freedom.