President Obama is an eloquent speaker. On Tuesday, he uplifted our spirits with these words:
We also know this — the American people refuse to be terrorized. Because what the world saw yesterday in the aftermath of the explosions were stories of heroism and kindness, and generosity and love: Exhausted runners who kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood, and those who stayed to tend to the wounded, some tearing off their own clothes to make tourniquets. The first responders who ran into the chaos to save lives. The men and women who are still treating the wounded at some of the best hospitals in the world, and the medical students who hurried to help, saying “When we heard, we all came in.” The priests who opened their churches and ministered to the hurt and the fearful. And the good people of Boston who opened their homes to the victims of this attack and those shaken by it.
So if you want to know who we are, what America is, how we respond to evil — that’s it. Selflessly. Compassionately. Unafraid.
Sadly, though, I no longer believe we are unafraid. America has caved in to terror, and we did it back in 2001. We panicked. We didn’t stop and do the job in Afghanistan, which included not only destroying Al Qaeda then and there, but also the Taliban, evil incarnate. Instead we adventured into Iraq, convinced that they had weapons of mass destruction (and I still think they may have had and distributed them around the world to other irresponsible regimes before we had a chance to find them).
But seven years later, we changed our minds about both Afghanistan and Iraq and announced our withdrawal—without having accomplished any of our goals.
This is not America anymore.
It isn’t just our foreign policy that’s un-American now. We’ve trashed the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We’re afraid of freedom. My proof is the popularity of the following popular witticism:
“The Constitution isn’t a suicide pact.”
If that remark doesn’t send a chill down your spine, you are too far gone to understand what I’m saying.
Freedom is a state in which fear must be constantly conquered, because freedom is based on uncertainty. Free people must be brave people. Free people are people who have emerged from their cocoons, because they are eager to take flight—into the wild, blue yonder. The wild is where freedom lies.
After the bombing on Monday, I turned off the TV and listened to a Pandora channel of Sixties songs. While I was dancing in the living room, I realized how different a time the Sixties were. It was a time when lyrics included lines like these from Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Free”:
Set your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah, baby, gonna make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And head into space
How naïve that sounds now. I can’t imagine any young person today who would even understand those lyrics. In 1967 everybody under 30 years old wanted to get away from the routine, try something new, see what they could discover, and “take the world in a love embrace.” The whole world. Its good and its bad. Its pleasure and its pain.
In 1967 we knew what freedom was: “nothing left to lose.”
Now America doesn’t care what freedom is. We’re afraid, so afraid we believe freedom is a suicide pact.