The passion for freedom challenges us to rise to the best of our ability as human beings. Whether or not institutions fail us, we are fully capable of giving life to our values when we engage with society, strengthen our communities, connect and collaborate with others.
It is in serving a purpose that each of us discovers the potential in ourselves for strength of character, generosity of spirit, and the inspiration to reach for a better place.
The practical limitations imposed on our personal freedom by moral responsibility and a complex world can be quite challenging, and crisis conditions make things all the more difficult. For the mature adult, however, these constraints provide a springboard for a meaningful and productive life.
Naturally, it can be difficult to find our place and focus our energy constructively. At times our courage can fail us. The demands made on us sometimes feel impossible, even without consideration for others. Without self-confidence it is difficult to be supportive of others, many of whom we seem to have little in common with.
Preparing ourselves will be important as we navigate through one of history’s great turning points. Our ability to function responsibly in difficult circumstances will be challenging.
I believe we have entered a period of upheaval that will be unprecedented in character and global in its dimensions. In my forthcoming book I explain why we will face “a confluence of crises” in the coming years, a series of consecutive and interrelated crises, both natural and man-made.
Preserving the Republic and holding to the core values of the American Idea will be our great responsibility as we transit the upheavals of a great storm. Our belief systems are already being tested. Civil order and economic stability will be shaken.
It will be imperative that we meet our tests with dignity, resetting our vision of the American identity based principle rather than watching it descend into chaos.
Our future depends on the survival of core human values and our commitment to retrieving a humane and sustainable future from the wreckage of the past.
Any alternative is too terrible to imagine.
We will prevail if our actions are constructive and the means we employ are harmonious with the ends that we seek. We must keep our balance in the storm, keep our hearts and minds focused on the greatest good, and not allow ourselves to be dragged down by fear.
And so I offer you a metaphor here for freedom’s truth, a physical reflection of the metaphysical reality. What follows are the final lines of a eulogy I gave for my father at his memorial service, and a testimony to what I learned from him:
“He gave me one truly great thing above all else…. And, this he did by teaching me the ways of sailing boats. He taught me to fly on the wind. He taught me to sail, to ride high on the blustering gale!
“Without fear we ventured out on the running tide, suspended between liquid and ether, to know the snap of the rigging, the sting of salt spray, and the unyielding rush of a steady keel straining against the wild. Together we embraced the untamed and raced across the sky. He was my Dad.”
Throughout life we are subject to the vagaries of a capricious human world that seems similar in many ways to the fickle nature of wind and sea. Yet, core principles, laws, and standards remain firmly in place in both worlds, if we have the eyes to see.
Understanding and embracing this truth, we can spread our wings and learn to fly.
As with a sailing vessel at sea, our identity as human beings can only be realized in action. And so we are free to discover the world we are given, learning as the sailor learns to engage a fluid and often unpredictable reality with wisdom and flexibility.
Failing this, we will beat ourselves against an implacable and merciless resistance. An unwillingness to learn will expose us to the storms of life in a rudderless ship and with our rigging in disarray.
Next week: Turning the corner.
A note to new readers: Blog entries adapted from the forthcoming book are posted on most Fridays at both this, the main blog site, and on the Facebook page. To receive alerts by email you may click “Follow” on this site.
Can we let ourselves trust to ride the elements and fly forward? This to me is the biggest question.
Thanks for your note! This is certainly a natural question for normal circumstances. Unfortunately, I believe a period of inevitable and sequential crises may soon be upon us, a time when our only alternative to disaster will be to respond with just such a synchronicity of flexibility and backbone as I suggest here. The intention of this book project and blog is assist in our preparation for such a time. I expect the reality of demands made upon us will not become fully apparent until we face them directly.
I do not see this as a desperate concern, but rather an opportunity to rise above our differences, learning the strength of unity in diversity, the value of collaboration and community with those we differ with, and the consciousness, attitude, and cooperative skills that will carry us through some very challenging tests.