I stand humbled by our military men and women who leave their families and give their lives, nobly sacrificing, as our president has not, their personal agendas in service to something larger than themselves, inspired by America’s history, humanity and infinite possibility to risk their lives in Her service and defense.
I stand awed by military surveillance and weapons technologies, as sophisticated as war is primitive, but I believe the same American ingenuity, creativity and intelligence that developed them could also have found ways not to need them, ways as radical and revolutionary as those which inspired the founders of our brave country.
Two hundred and twenty-five years ago America’s founders chose the unmarked trail of personal liberty and claimed for themselves and proclaimed to others new ideals of human freedom and dignity. Nations followed, shrugging off their feudal mantles and stepping with us into a new landscape of unprecedented self-determination.
Freedom is our national heritage, our deliverance and our burden. But freedom cannot be enforced. It is, itself, the absence of force. It is choice. We can no more liberate Iraq with war than we can free an alcoholic by shooting his bottle.
Personal liberty is the road to national freedom. It begins with the private freedom to make a space between stimulus and response that separates us from animals, the choice to access our bigger brains to respond out of thought rather than impulse or instinct. Freedom is in the independent thought between propaganda and personal belief, in choices made in the deliberate space between anguish and action, between the righteous rage of terrorists’ victims and retaliation, between political dissent and mob mentality.
If our country’s leaders have chosen a road we will not travel, let us chose, because we are free Americans, a path of our own making. Let us not lie down in American’s streets in protest, but rather see the terrain for ourselves and map a new trail always heading towards our country’s great hope: freedom and justice for all.
America now calls herself the world’s strong right arm; and while there is much to celebrate in a strong arm, when it compels the left arm and both feet to become right arms too, the world body will stumble. Let us find a million roads to freedom, each as individuated as a hand from a foot, each as integrated as an athlete. Let us each inventory our abilities and resources and take personal action to decrease polarity, chaos and suffering and increase individuation, integration and order.
The waves of democracy that washed the world after 1776 were not pushed, but rippled from citizen to subject. Let us drop a pebble in our own pond again and pray it ripples round the world. Let each of us walk our private sermon to the national pulpit and when we arrive, let us listen, so that America might lead an army of the inspired rather than a coalition of the coerced.
May America lead again. May her freedom ring, not divided against herself, but indivisible, individuated, integrated- not one note, but many mingled tones. May we, the people, lead our country into new freedoms, as different from our present discord as democracy is from monarchy and finally of the people, by the people and for the people. I believe we can. I stand for an America where anything is possible.