Being that it’s the week of the Fourth of July, I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom and what it means for today’s America. It took me back to a memory. About a year and a half ago, I watched my second cousin, Dale, kneel down in front of my grandfather’s ashes as the funeral service concluded. He reached into a box and grabbed a handful of dirt. As he tossed the dirt on the urn, he said the following words:
“Duty — Honor — Country”
Those three words were permanently etched into my mind. I remember consciously feeling the weight of the significance and meaning. I find it interesting how some life experiences are deeply captured in one’s memory while others are quickly forgotten. In the chaotic times we live in, those three simple, bold, words have frequently resurfaced. It’s led me to a sobering realization — America is being fundamentally changed right in front of our eyes — while no politician is dutifully honoring the freedoms of the people they are sworn to protect.
Have we forgotten our liberty?
Have we forgotten our duty?
Have we forgotten our honor?
Have we forgotten our country?
Our foundational freedoms are being eroded
Liberty: the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views
In 2020, have you taken a moment to evaluate what restrictions have been imposed on your livelihood? What restrictions have been imposed on your freedoms?
Are you wearing your mask?
Due to state and local requirements, many businesses quickly established policies in order to open their doors, forcing customers to wear masks for a disease that, so far, seems to be no more harmful than the seasonal flu. Some states, like California, have implemented mandatory orders for citizens to wear masks, causing some to voice concerns, saying the requirement is an infringement on their freedom. Joe Biden recently made a statement that he would use executive powers to force Americans to wear masks.
Have we really considered the health effects of wearing masks for long periods of time? What about in different environments? How many people do you think are wearing the “correct” type of mask? Is it safe to exercise and jog in masks? The other day, I watched a neighbor mow his lawn wearing a surgical mask in 90+ degree heat, is that safe? Are masks safe to wear for people with health issues, like asthma? See the YouTube video where a guy tests oxygen levels after people on his team had been complaining of headaches and dizziness while wearing masks. Forcing anyone to wear masks, especially with so many unanswered health questions, should be eye-opening to us all.
“We’re all in this together” is a nice way of convincing the population to “do your part” and go along with whatever you’re being told to do. The hashtag #RealMenWearMasks was trending on Twitter the other day. Celebrities, politicians, and CEOs are voicing their support. Juggling our busy lives while being bombarded with so many voices, it’s easy to give in to groupthink or let the “experts” decide for you. I’ve actually found more comfort in doing the opposite. Before following unvetted, debatable, or expedient solutions — question more.
Travel restrictions, mandatory testing, quarantines, and surveillance
If you’ve been paying attention to the headlines, the “predicted” second wave of the virus is steadily unfolding. Given the steep rise in new cases (coincidentally in conservative-leaning states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida), new travel restrictions have been put in place in some cases, again restricting your way of life and further impacting your freedoms. Here’s a list of the states with newly updated restrictions.
Another eye-opening aspect in all of this is an immediate call for the increase in surveillance. Earlier this month, Google and Apple swiftly pushed updates to their mobile platforms to include “COVID-19 Exposure Logging,” a mechanism that exchanges IDs with other devices using Bluetooth. For now, this will enable other apps to notify you if you may have been exposed to the virus. Both Google and Apple have publicly announced they may work towards not requiring a separate app for tracking, and building it directly into your phone’s operating system. Given the false-positives and false-negatives in testing procedures, why the rush to implement more tracking software? Why the rush to forgo our individual liberties for a false sense of security?
The forgotten code of moral law and ethics
We all, as Americans, have a responsibility. What does Duty, Honor, and Country mean? During his farewell address to the Corps of Cadets at West Point in 1962, General Douglas MacArthur outlined what those words meant:
“Duty — Honor — Country. These three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn … The code which those words perpetuate embraces the highest moral laws and will stand the test of any ethics or philosophies ever promulgated for the uplift of mankind. Its requirements are for the things that are right, and its restraints are from the things that are wrong.”
You have the duty and honor to uphold the freedom provided to you as a citizen of this country and so do your elected representatives, congressmen, and the president of the United States of America. This Independence Day, let the following be a gentle reminder to all Americans: You have the freedom of choice — be proud, and voice it, if you feel necessary.
“Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.” — James Baldwin
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” — George Orwell
“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” — George Bernard Shaw
“Better to die for freedom than be a prisoner all the days of your life.” — Bob Marley