July 3, 2022
Christ has set us free. He wants us to enjoy freedom. So stand firm. Don't let the chains of slavery hold you again.
The American Revolution can teach us lessons that pertain to our own personal freedom at the spiritual level. The struggle for freedom at any level, requires a deep commitment and willingness to give our all, persistently and without resignation. Independence requires us to face challenges with courage and determination, and a deeply engrained belief that what we strive to attain is for our highest good.
The attainment of freedom is worth whatever the effort demands. To be free of bondage, empirical rule, addiction, fear, ignorance, pain, or anything else that enslaves us is a most precious commodity. The undertaking for freedom not only comes with its costs but often comes in layers or pieces, parceled gains through meritorious effort, worthiness, and the abandonment of limited and debilitating thinking.
The thirteen original colonies were British possessions, and prior to 1764 were fairly ignored by their mother country. The debt Britain incurred on behalf of protecting and governing the colonies became too high. The colonies were prospering, and the British Parliament thought it justified to recoup some of their losses by imposing taxes upon the colonies, as they had upon all their other citizens. Tensions soon escalated.
These tensions and unsettled disputes led to the Revolutionary War. There were unacceptable demands that denied the colonists individual and social rights. Dialog did no good; logic, reason, and debate, were useless. Something had to change, and the change came about by revolution - direct and absolute confrontation.
The colonies declared themselves independent and fought to establish that independence. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress and signed probably on August 2, 1776. The war for the declared independence lasted until 1783 when the Treaty of Paris was signed.
This freedom was solely for a governing entity and not the freedom for all its individuals. Although we revere the words, “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 those are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness…,” there were other words that had to be removed before this declaration would be adopted. South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia demanded that the following words by Thomas Jefferson be removed: “...accusing the King of violating the rights of life and liberty of innocent people by exporting them to other hemispheres, where they were enslaved.”
Those unalienable rights were not ready to be recognized for all people. Although freedom was gained through the sweat and lives of black and white, men and women, not all people were looked upon as worthy of individual freedom.
What we celebrate today is not the day our nation won the war against Great Britain, but the day on which the people jointly claimed their independence. The war would still rage for another seven years. More war, effort, and growth were yet necessary. More lives needed to be sacrificed; more minds opened. More attitudes needed adjusting, and perhaps most importantly, a deeper spiritual awareness was necessary.
Although the Revolutionary War gained us National freedom, our social freedom began at the end of the Civil War, when on February 1, 1865, the 13th Amendment was signed into law. Even this was a process. June 19th signifies the day when slavery was abolished in the Confederacy, and then the ratification of the amendment on December 6, 1865, abolished slavery in all the United States, including the holdouts Delaware and Kentucky.
The Women’s Movement, which had started in 1848, grew as the American consciousness grew. On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. This victory came from the same qualities that our national independence and the racial independence sprang – dogged determination, unflagging effort, and the undeniable quest for what is right.
Struggles don’t always have to be wars. Sometimes they show up as decisions and choices during conflict. Jesus experienced it when he said, “Get behind me Satan,” and freed himself of the entrapments of ego. Gandhi met challenges with passivity and overcame the Empirical British to free his country.
Regardless of how they come, challenges must be met to allow freedom to blossom. The chick must peck its way out of the shell to freedom. It is the struggle that gives it the energy to live. The same applies to the butterfly writhing to escape its cocoon. The very activity of bursting its bonds forces fluid through it wings enabling it to fly. Without the struggle, the chick and the butterfly die.
So it is with this nation. We struggled for freedom, and it was the energy that we gained, and the attitude of self-direction that gave us the strength and awareness to face our social challenges. The importance of the struggle is not only the victory, but what we learn and become because of the effort.
And like our national freedoms, which have come over a protracted period, our social freedoms are slowly evolving as well. Although we have declared that ‘all men are created equal, and are endowed with certain unalienable rights,’ in some parts of the country and in some social circles these battles still wage. We are not done with the struggle.
Whether endowed by God or a man-made constitution every right carries a corresponding responsibility. We cannot pursue our happiness at the expense of someone else’s happiness. We cannot abuse our freedom of speech by yelling ‘fire’ in a movie theater, nor commit slander by speaking false, harmful, and damaging statements about someone. Neither can we commit libel by writing these statements. Because we live in a society, no man-endowed rights are absolute; there are restrictions and limitations. Every right is tempered by responsibility. We are taught these responsibilities, restrictions, and limitations by God, our parents, and the social contract under which we have chosen to live.
Society will eventually look upon every individual – black or white, Hispanic or Asian, gay or straight, young or old, literate or illiterate, wealthy or poor, healthy or ill – with equal respect and will give the same opportunities and rights in all circumstances. Every person has been endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights, and there will be a time when this is recognized and not just declared.
But the declaration comes first. By declaring a thing, we make it real; we issue forth a proclamation for all to hear and know. Through declaration we garner the energies of Spirit to help achieve our acknowledged truth. “Let there be light, and there was light.” Jesus declared thanks to God before he performed his miracles. Declaration always precedes being.
It is so with our own personal and spiritual independence. There will come a time when the events of the world, the stresses we allow into our minds and hearts, the fears, and doubts that we harbor become intolerable. With enough inner searching and struggle and determined effort, during one of our quiet times we may even make our own spiritual declaration of independence. It could sound like this: I declare that while my ego has served me well, I no longer look to it for guidance. My Life, Liberty and Happiness are not gained by anything “out there” in the physical world or by personal effort. My Source of all is Spirit, and I rely exclusively upon that inner Source, inner Strength, and inner Guidance. For as 2 Corinthians 3:17 teaches: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
We will each eventually uncover our spiritual strength and freedom and discover that we are beyond the reach of the physical world. We will know beyond all doubt that God, our Source and Creator, supplies all that we need. It will take commitment, persistence, and the willingness to surrender to Spirit everything that comes up: negative, positive, the painful and the beneficial.
Our final lesson comes when we overcome the world and realize that we do not attain freedom for ourselves, but for all. Galatians 5:13 tells us, “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Our calling is to use our freedom until there is independence for all.
Just as this great nation fought for its independence and continues to evolve into its fullest potential, a more perfect union, we too continue to awaken to what and who we truly are – beautiful, perfect, and beloved Child of God.