The choice before God in creating the world lay between creating a purely mechanical universe, peopled by automatons, or creating a spiritual universe in which there would be a choice of good and evil. What was the condition then of such a universe? He had to endow us with the power to say yes and no and to be captains of our own fate and destiny. Morality implies responsibility and duty, but these can exist only on the condition of freedom. Stones have no morals because they are not free. We do not condemn ice because it is melted by the heat. Praise and blame can be bestowed only on those who are masters of their own will. It is only because you have the possibility of saying no, that there’s so much charm in your character when you say “yes”. Take the quality of freedom away from anyone, and it is no more possible for him to be virtuous than it is for a blade of grass which he treads beneath his feet to be virtuous. Take freedom away from life, and there would be no more reason to honor the fortitude of martyrs than there would be to honor the flames which kindle their stakes. Is it therefore any impeachment of God that He chose not to reign over an empire of chemicals? If God has deliberately chosen a kind of empire to be ruled by freedom rather than force, and if we find that His subjects are able to act against His will, as the stars and atoms cannot, does this not prove that He has given to those human beings the chance of breaking allegiance so that there might be meaning and purpose in that allegiance when they freely choose it? Here we have a mere suggestion about the possibility of evil. – Venerable Archbishop Futon J. Sheen
“Captains of our own fate and destiny on the condition of freedom.” This condition can only be provided in a free society. And specifically a free society that owes this condition to the grace of God. Thomas Jefferson wrote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It was clear to the founding fathers that if this new nation was to survive beyond its birth it had to rely upon an absolute truth that would be difficult for critics to attack and its enemies to demoralize the colonial militia. For God is infallible and man is fallible. Had Jefferson’s declaration been born from the mind of man rather than the mind of God, the American experiment would have failed when doubt causing challenges became so overwhelming against a successful outcome. Yet, the insight and wisdom of the founding fathers in proclaiming the grounds on which they would make their stand against tyranny sacred ground, the lives, fortunes and honor of dedicated patriots were therefore not spent in vain.
G. K. Chesterton tells us that: “Soldiers fight not because they hate what is in front of them, but because they love what is behind them.” It is the love of family, country and freedom that motivates one to sacrifice one’s most precious commodity; one’s life. This is what defines a patriot. This is so, as well, for the modern patriot and today’s fighting men and women. To forsake all for a just cause. And that just cause is individual freedom for oneself and one’s neighbor.
God can bestow upon mankind what is Himself. We are capable of every virtue that is God. Likewise, we are capable, through His gift of free will, to the contrary vice. In our exercise of freedom we can make but one of two choices: we can do what we should or what we want. In choosing what we should aligns us with God’s truth. In choosing what we want aligns us with relative truth; truth then being what we perceive it to be, often to suit our particular need at a particular time. The former brings order and harmony. The latter chaos and discord. Such is the tug-of war that abides in each free man and woman’s soul. A wise old native-American once said: “In each person’s soul are two dogs fighting. One is good, the other evil. The one that wins is the one that is fed the most.” We may very well lose the freedom we most cherish by using it unwisely. Love and freedom, sadly, are never most appreciated until they are lost.
May God Bless and conserve our individual freedom with prudence. Happy 4th of July!