ON A PERSONAL NOTE/By Maramis
Having recently celebrated our independence, we might consider that in order to have the best government possible, enough people have to agree. We (the United States of America) have been around for quite a number of years now (245), and apparently we still haven’t figured out how to avoid wars and even rioting on our streets. We don’t seem to have a grasp on how to get the best of all governments going in this country. And on top of that, we feel we’re losing the liberty we thought we had. Why would that be so? We have some good laws, but laws are only as good as they are enforced, and equally enforced, at that.
Countries are run by their governments and we have not been able to refine our present government so that we would be heading for not only a more well-run country with less government, but the kind of government that would make others around the world see us as a beacon of light to all nations.
It doesn’t cost anything to think, ponder, muse, wonder or create in our minds a more perfect government that would solve a lot of the current problems we have. The problem with such imagining, however, is that many people have already made up their minds about what they want and what they don’t want, leaving little room for even considering a better way.
If one man craves freedom — liberty — he must remember that all other men long for the same freedom. Groups of such liberty-loving mortals cannot live together in peace without becoming subject to such laws, rules, and regulations as will grant each person the same degree of freedom while at the same time safeguarding an equal degree of freedom for all of his fellow mortals. Freedom is the gift of civilization made possible by the enforcement of LAW.
Religion — but not religion in the sense of forcing this dogma or that dogma on all the people — makes it possible to recognize our place in the universe as the children of God, the Great Creator of all, thereby making it possible to spiritually realize the brotherhood of men. How can we care about liberty for all unless we care about all men and women as our equal brothers and sisters? (We have to get back to the intention of words and not get hung up on the literalness of such words as brotherhood, mankind, and fellowship referring only to males.
Those who make it a point to disregard the meanings of the words for the spelling, which suggests a word is male-dominated may end up being the same ones who eventually end up criticizing the word “amen.” Such people are slowly but surely chipping away at our freedom of speech.
If we are truly one nation, under God, then we must never take God out of our government—or for granted. He has always been there, whether we acknowledge him or not, just as our Founding Fathers took care to thank him for everything. That is not to say that we use religious language in our government or tilt our worldview toward only one “brand” of God, but we mustn’t forget he is there.
And speaking of God, no matter what we call him, or who we think he blesses or doesn’t bless, we must realize that the very one who created us, all of us, did not intend for us to destroy each other in street riots and wars of all kinds. Either there is just one God, above all, or there is rivalry among all the gods for the position of “top dog,” or the god who is above all the other gods. Think about it; that can never be.
Remember, true liberty is a partner with genuine self-respect; false liberty is the consort of self-admiration. True liberty is the fruit of self-control; false liberty, the assumption of self-assertion.
Self-control leads to altruistic service, while self-admiration tends towards the exploitation of others for the selfish aggrandizement of such a mistaken individual who is willing to sacrifice righteous attainment for the sake of possessing unjust power over his fellow beings.
In other words, if you’re thinking of having your own personal liberty — which always means that you don’t particularly care about the liberty of all those around you as long as you get what you want — then you’re definitely going in the wrong direction.
There is no error greater than that self-deception which leads intelligent beings to crave the exercise of power over other beings
for the purpose of depriving those persons of their natural liberties.
The golden rule of human fairness cries out against all such fraud, unfairness, selfishness, and unrighteousness.
How dare the self-willed creature encroach upon the rights of his fellows in the name of personal liberty! No being, in the exercise of his supposed personal liberty, has a right to deprive any other being of those privileges of existence conferred by the Creator.
No matter what they are teaching in school these days, or what our politicians are telling us, true liberty needs us to respect others as much as we respect ourselves. If that makes you think of the golden rule, then you’d be on the right track. And once we’re on the right track, we may finally get the kind of government we all really want, where settling our differences does not mean or require that we use weapons — either physical ones or words of hate — to cut down those who disagree with us.
If you, whoever you are, want the freedoms that we believe we should have — such ordinary liberties as freedom of speech, freedom to worship God, and freedom to live where we choose to live, as long as we can afford it and make it happen — we need to be sure we do not allow our government to take them away from us.
Along with Thomas Jefferson, we must be able to say whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to the government, or information to the people. He added, “This last is the most certain and the most legitimate engine of government. Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them. And it requires no very high degree of education to convince them of this. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters,” said Benjamin Franklin.
And John Adams rightly added, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
God bless America, and God bless us, every one!
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.