Tuesday, July 04, 2006

4 July: Through Freedom's Eye, We see ... a Blue Sky

I can never say it enough.

It makes me so proud that my nation's first words were an utterance of belief, of raw faith, a bold leap into the sky, riding upon and lifted only by the rushing air of the truth upon which they soared.

Surely the founders knew they were taking a bold leap, as they planted their flag on a political and ideological peak never before discovered, much less ascended.

But I wonder if the founders had ever seen an eagle fly.

I wonder if they fully apprehended the power of the rushing wind that would lift them.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident."

Can't you see, man? These things are self-evident. They needed none of the many lawyers in their midst to prove the truth of their bold proclamation.

All men are created equal. They have certain unalienable rights granted to them by God. They have a right to live, to be free, and to pursue happiness. They have a right to hold a government accountable that doesn't abide by these truths.

We Americans believe in these things. As we hold to them, since they are true, we rise as an eagle taking flight. It is natural and the only way to go. It's the only path we know. Up. Out. Over and above. We are free, so we see things that others only dream of. We risk and thus we reap the results of freedom's dare.

As Americans, we look up. We believe.

And the view is beautiful up here.

Belief is a an assurance or confidence of what is, by definition, a mystery. Thus, it always dwells with unbelief. That is, some will always remain unconvinced. This is the nature of free will. In fact, without unbelief, we couldn't even know the nature and joy that is believing in what is true.

Freedom's flight remains a perpetual struggle.

Recently, I was reminded of a trip back from a family reunion in my grandad's car during the mid-70s. I was in the front seat, sitting between my granddad and my dad. They were talking about how surely the Japanese would overtake America as the world's economic leader. Thus, I found myself in the awkward position of arguing with these two men who had taught me to believe in America. "Hey, wait a minute, we'll come back, right? We're Americans."

They knew better, too. My granddad had grown up poor. But he opened a meat market, scratched, clawed, and ultimately became very successful. And my dad, he's the one who told me all about America and why and how to believe. He was a salesman, and just a "rag" salesman at that. Still, he did well. In America, even a rag salesman could do well. This was the land of opportunity. This is what these men taught me. Now, I was arguing with them?

Fast forward about ten years ... I was talking with a friend who went to graduate school at Stanford before going to work at Motorola. His patriotism was waning. Maybe it was the influence of the "enlightened unbelief" at Stanford.

He recounted to me how Japanese were helping themselves to our computer chip designs. They were having trouble keeping up with America, because in their culture, the risks associated with innovation were too great.

Still, my friend argued, "What's the difference, any way? What does it matter if the profits go to Japan or the the U.S?" I steamed. What does it matter?!

What does it matter if America prospers? What does it matter, if this, the last, best hope of mankind survives?

What does it matter? Ask the charitable organizations and missionaries why it matters. Ask those who aren't free. Ask the many nations who still look here for help, guidance, support, and encouragement.

What does it matter that this nation, whose very essence is an abiding belief in freedom, survives? What does it matter?

It matters. A lot.

Fast forward again to 1991 ... Then, we heard Saddam boast of the coming "Mother of All Battles", boiling oil, tens of thousands of body bags, etc. Some gulped and wondered openly if America's young troops had the mettle of past generations. Would they be up to the task? But I saw them and knew they would be. They knew they would be, too. These young Americans believed and never blinked, and Saddam's threat became a punchline.

And now our latest generation of troops has also answered the questions posed by Militant Islamists: Would young Americans leave their safe and secure lives to defend not only their freedom but also that of their countrymen? Would they kick down the necessary doors to root out the enemies of this nation? Many of us knew all along they would.

It goes on and on. You bet against America at your peril. I know, some will always doubt and want to bet against my country. But do you feel lucky? Do you?

Because you see, I have seen ... I have seen the eagle fly.

So, while tyrants become the cynics' masters, we will press on and up.

For we owe it to those who first showed us how to soar to keep faith in America. And we owe it to our young people to continue to believe in America. They are looking at us, as we look back at our examples.

Please understand that I am not advocating belief simply for the sake of believing. I am not advocating belief upon a fictional magic carpet, for belief is only as strong as its object. Rather, I am advocating keeping faith in this nation and its founding principles.

Just because it flies and appears magical doesn't mean it isn't real.

Because I have seen the eagle fly. You have, too.

Thus, we must not grow cynical. Cynicism is antithetical to the ideal that is, indeed the creed that is, America.

For sure, to be tough-minded is an American trait. Indeed, to be realistic about the journey ahead is very American. To give up, however, is not. In America, we believe. Thus, we persevere. We don't quit. We don't whine. And when we forget these things, we remember who we are, where we've been, and how we got here.

And then, we face the stiff breeze again and jump. We jump off the side of another mountain and fly to an even higher ledge of spectacular beauty that no man has seen before.

Surely, the obstacles today are great. We have enemies abroad, traitors within, and we have a long war on our hands. And our adversaries are counting us out.

It sounds like old times. In fact, it sounds a lot like the first Independence Day to me.

So, it sounds like we need some Americans to step up and out.

It sounds like a great ride.

But don't look down. Look up.

It's blue up there. And there's an eagle, headed to a new place that only the free and the brave can see. Let's go.

Photo courtesy of Wild Things Photography.