About the Project

Lincoln3

Freedom’s Truth: Justice and Responsibility

“Liberty and the American Idea” is a writing project that includes this blog and a forthcoming book, as well as additional resources to come.

The project explores the dynamic interplay between freedom and responsibility in our American heritage.  And, it responds to the decades-long deterioration of social and economic conditions in the United States, to distrust and loss of civility among Americans, and to the degradation of integrity and self-reliance in the American character.

Without partisan political posturing, the book and blog offer insights into how personal freedom and empowerment can be realized despite our differences and the obstacles we face.  A strategy is offered to facilitate a practical long-term approach to stability and honorable prosperity, and a path forward to engage every citizen.

After briefly outlining the complexity of the challenges before us, the first half of the book offers wide-ranging consideration of the historical forces and ways of thinking that have influenced current views and assumptions.

A strategic approach is then presented in the second half of the book which responds directly to the disorder and confusion we can expect from a multitude of oncoming crises.  Americans are encouraged to rise above our differences—at least to the extent necessary—to ensure local safety and the essential needs of our communities.

Rational attention to resolving local problems and meeting shared needs will lead to functional interpersonal relationships.  This will allow us to engage coherently and address dire circumstances.  And only in this way can we gradually come to understand and influence one another as fellow-citizens must.

This is an extremely demanding proposition.  Yet, I believe we have no choice.  Americans are, indeed, challenged to rise to the next level.

Strategic thinking is outlined briefly in the introduction to the book, (linked at the top of this page), and developed fully in the book.  The project will include the development of practical resources for well-organized and authentic American communities.

Until the book is published, most blog posts will be adapted from or related to the manuscript.  Several completed chapters are made available in draft at the top of this page, as well as an Introduction to the book.  A tentative table of contents may sometimes be made available.  Thoughtful responses from readers, and dialog among readers, will be welcomed and greatly appreciated.  Rules of engagement are posted at the bottom of the homepage.

Recent Posts

American Identity, Plural Values

Accelerating change has been apparent in the United States for most of our lives.  Today the consequences are profound.  And, the coronavirus pandemic is masking this pre-existing reality.  Can we take the long view and try to understand the big picture? Surely, we should not allow COVID to distract us from recognizing what has been happening in the United States.  But the truth is complex.  The reality is not simple.

It is easy to think about change superficially in political terms.  But politics are a consequence, not a cause.   What has actually happened—socially, economically? How has our society been changing over time, and how has this influenced our national identity and character?  Has it altered our sense of who we are?

Hardships, uncertainties, and material losses have upended many lives.  Can we step back from this great testing to consider what it means for us?

In my view, we would do well to turn to what matters most to us—the values and principles and virtues that will keep our communities safe, our minds sane, and our integrity intact.  These are the foundations of personal identity and inner moral strength, and they are easily corrupted and befouled by an outwardly combative attitude.

The courage to respond to distrust or enmity with dignity and grace is not easy, but it will not compromise ones’ principles.  Holding fast to personal integrity allows self-respect, self-confidence, and responsibility.  It can facilitate problem-solving.

Where material devastation abounds, only a calm integrity can support thoughtful purpose.  Never has this been so important, whether it be for safety or sanity or the groundwork for negotiating the future. Our present difficulties in the United States are daunting.  They will not be resolved and the future cannot be secured without a positive attitude.

What is to be done?

We need safety, trustworthy neighbors, and truth we can depend on.  How can we work our way toward this?  Blaming and complaining gets us nowhere.

Local communities are places where basic needs must be met, and where constructive interaction is most possible.  Communities are where life actually takes place, where problem-solving can no longer be passed off to someone else, somewhere else.

Community is the seat of civilization.

Americans will need to relearn how to do this.

Impossible you say?  Think again my friends; we have no choice. There will be no quick fix.

I will offer a systematic approach to building functionally authentic communities in my forthcoming book. We will need to live our way into a future we can believe in.  No bluster, no smooth talk, no promises can be trusted; just hard work.   We can do this, and we need to do it for ourselves. 

Surely our first responsibility will be to accept the reality of our differences, and to negotiate honest means for practical problem-solving. Plural and conflicting values are an inevitable part of life, in families, in societies, in nations.  This has always been true.  Human beings have never agreed about values. 

Managing conflicting values—whether within ourselves or in our relationships—develops character and maturity. How we respond to a diversity of values is what defines a free society.  The acceptance of differences is an essential aspect of our national identity. 

Are we prepared to protect the freedoms of those who disagree with us?  No one should ask us to change our own values or views, and we should not.  Let’s not be diverted from constructive action by judgmental thinking.

The path to a principled stability begins within ourselves.  And the results will be apparent in the grace with which we work with others to make our communities safe.

The American story is one of visionary hopefulness, realized in fits and starts over the course of more than two centuries.  It has been part courageous and inspiring, and in other ways both baffling and troubling.  It is a work in progress.

If we wish to collaborate with one another to resolve basic problems, we will need to step aside from unproductive bickering, extricate ourselves from the wreckage, and rise above our differences—to face the imposing dangers that now confront us.

Tom

You may watch for the next post on or about October 25.

A note to new readers:  A project description and several sample chapters from the coming book are available at the top of the homepage.

  1. Self-confidence and Dependability Comments Off on Self-confidence and Dependability
  2. Reaching for Resilience 1 Reply
  3. The Bottom Line 7 Replies
  4. A True and Just Economy 2 Replies
  5. Thinking Constructively, Under Pressure Comments Off on Thinking Constructively, Under Pressure
  6. A Brief Delay Comments Off on A Brief Delay
  7. No Shortcuts to the Future 2 Replies
  8. What Have We Lost? 2 Replies
  9. To Recover a Civilized Order Comments Off on To Recover a Civilized Order
  10. Personal Integrity, Freedom of Thought 1 Reply
  11. A Stormy American Heritage Comments Off on A Stormy American Heritage