How Might We Lose Our Freedoms?

Beltane                                                                            Waning Last Frost Moon

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” – Abraham Lincoln

The tea-party folks and all those ronpaulites must love this quote from Lincoln.  I just did a quick search trying (unsuccessfully) to find its source.  The line came up  on such webpages as:  Patriot Watch, The RightWing News, Gunforum, Overkill, Professional Soldiers, SpearFishingPlanet and ChristianSoldiersCross.com among many others.  Until this search, I hadn’t realized a pernicious part of the search technology; that is, it’s capacity to put quotes out of context into everyone’s hands.  I’m sure most, all?, of these folks are confident Lincoln said this.  I don’t know for sure and couldn’t find the source in a quick search.  Context matters.  He may well have meant the apparent plain meaning of these words; he may well not have said them at all; or, he may have said them, but their meaning is different from the apparent meaning due to context.

This is just a specific instance of a general phenomena the web unfortunately promotes, an uncritical acceptance of information and attributions.  If you do not have training in critical thinking, it does not come naturally, you will not consider the possibility of false or inaccurate information; neither will you consider the possibility of attributions made in error, out of wishful thinking, out of malice, out of mistaken information.

Having said that.  Lincoln.  Well, of course, this quote represents nationalistic thinking on the level of the three year old.  Why?  It’s magical thinking.  (like Ayn Rand, see below)  It should read, “I hope America will never be destroyed from the outside.”  Forever is a really long time.  Who knows?  Canada and Mexico may form a Norte Americano Hockey league and decide to invade.  OK, that one’s easy.

With the next sentence I agree.  Please note, all right wing admirers of Lincoln, he did not say, “If we raise taxes, we will destroy ourselves.”

Hell, I’m not even sure he said this in the first place.  But let’s pretend he did until we know one way or the other.

How might we falter?  By restricting the freedom of others.  Who?  Gay and lesbian citizens, who pay taxes, vote, fight, raise children come to mind.  The people here first, now often consigned to the least desirable plots of land  on land once their sole possession, come to mind. All the Mexicans fighting to get across the border onto land that was once under their nations sovereign control come to mind.  Who are the true illegals here?

How might we falter?  By refusing to honor the compassionate wisdom of our primary faith tradition, Christianity. Here are few quotes from the New Testament that show what I mean. Feed my sheep.  Let the little ones come unto me.  Again, I tell you it is easier for a rich man to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

If you have a country where the rich get rich, richer, richest and the poor recede from economic sight, is that just?  If we are to feed Jesus’s sheep, don’t food stamps and aid to families with dependent children put our culture on His side?  What might be good news to the poor?  A job.  Affordable housing.  Decent medical care.  Food.

Do you see where I’m going here?  It’s possible, even probable, that Lincoln, who hated slavery and loved the nation would, if he had lived, have created a number of government programs to assure the reconstruction of the south.  Instead thanks to Booth we got Andrew Johnson, friend to the south and enemy of reconstruction.

We will lose our freedoms when we lose the compassion that has made us great, the compassion that opens our borders, feeds the starving and gives people a hand up and a handout when necessary.  We will lose our freedoms when a spirit of meanness triumphs and generosity withers.  We will lose our freedoms when we become the money grubbing, power hungry country many in the world already believe we are.

We will lose our freedoms if the narrow vision of the far right wing comes to dominate our land.  It is not taxes that is the issue, or the nature of the constitution, but the character of our country.  Much that is good here has its roots in New Testament Christianity.  That’s the same New Testament read by right wing religious folk.

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