“And it shall come to pass afterward, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions…” Joel 2:28
What we have here is a minor 9th Century BC prophet projecting his prognostication of great blessings which God promises to pour out on His people in the future. While he probably did not have America in mind, per se, who can ignore the fulfillment of this prophesy in the founding and maintaining of our great land? And tomorrow we’ll again celebrate this blessing.
Soon the skies of our Homeland will explode in celebration of the birthday of Independence Day, a dream come true. It marks the 242nd anniversary of our Republic. But what exactly will we be celebrating?
Freedom, that’s what, fruit that has matured from the Tree of Vision nurtured by courageous men and women, young and old. These patriots pledged their lives and fortunes to fulfill the deepest dream of mankind…Liberty. The Declaration of Independence is the Word, the seed of that powerful dream, a dream that beats in the heart of every citizen.
What is Freedom? A chimerical wish-list envisioned by idle daydreamers? Some romantic notion devised by Utopian idealists? Hardly. The poet, Gibran, writes, “(Vague) and nebulous is the beginning of all things, but not their end…that which seems most feeble and bewildered in you is the strongest and most determined…and if you could hear the whispering of the dream, you would hear no other sound.” Thankfully, our ancestors heard that whisper. Do we?
From what compost is Freedom conceived? Often from the exploited detritus of oppression, enslavement, tyranny and brutality. It seethes in obscurity. It endures beneath the turf of tyrants, despots and dictators. When it can no longer be suppressed, its collective voice shouts, “No more!” It then rises from darkness into a tsunami of unrestrained power.
All births are bloody. Travail precedes each. Ben Franklin and a friend once watched a hot air balloon exhibit in a field of France. The balloon rose slowly from the ground, floated over trees, and landed in a nearby field. Peasant farmers with pitchforks, ignorant and fearful, attacked it.
The friend remarked, “What good was that experiment?”
Franklin replied, “What good is any new-born baby?”
Freedom begins as a baby. But it grows, changes, dreams of its own destiny. America’s experiment with Freedom is older now, but no less vibrant. The baby is maturing, and it’s changing.
How does Freedom consist, hold together? Is it by milquetoast methods of submission to the winds of fortune? Or is it by, as Churchill said in England’s dark hours of WW II, “…blood, toil, tears and sweat…?” All revolutions and preservations of Freedom are achieved not by slick rhetoric, but by the shedding of blood. America’s experiment with Freedom is no different.
Is our dream of Freedom in jeopardy? Has it become a faded billboard for rent, cheap? A fast-food court of entitlements, tawdry trinkets and handouts to appease the masses? A nation of freeloaders and pilferers of the public treasury? Free everything…healthcare, food stamps, welfare checks, mortgages, you-name-it? Are we like drunks, sucking the dregs of the Dream at the bottom of a bottle of debt, celebrity politics and self-gratification? Scary thoughts.
Again, this year the fireworks extravaganzas will bring to remembrance Francis Scott Key’s words, “…and the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.” And that’s what we need…a constant reminder that the horror of darkness has not extinguished our flag, the symbol of enduring Freedom.
On Wednesday the Spirit of Liberty will blow softly in the breezes. Firecrackers, both real and symbolic, will beat back the night for a little while longer. After the parades, picnics, BBQ, hot dogs, beer, watermelons and heartburn, we’ll sleep soundly, nurtured in the comfort of Freedom. But not all of us.
Somewhere on a dusty desolate plain a soldier with a weapon will keep a night watch. Somewhere a baby will be born. Their lives will merge with old men who still dream dreams, and with young men who still see visions.
Every generation has the power to retain or forfeit this Dream and Vision of Freedom. Which will we choose?
But for today, The Dream and the Vision live on. Now, begin the parades. God bless America.
July 3, 2018