About the Project

Lincoln3

Freedom’s Truth: Reality and Responsibility

Liberty and the American Idea is a writing project that includes this blog, a forthcoming book, and the development of additional resources going forward. In addition to the main site, the blog also appears on Facebook and can be followed on Twitter.

The project explores the meaning of freedom and responsibility in the context of American history and culture, and addresses the immense challenges confronting the American people.  It is a response to the unfolding deterioration of social and economic conditions in the United States, to the growing antipathy, divisiveness, and loss of civility among Americans, and to the loss of integrity and self-reliance in the American character.

Without political posturing or polemic, the book offers a pragmatic approach to healing and reconstruction that transcends partisan divisions and proposes a path forward to inspire and engage every citizen.

After briefly outlining the complexity of the challenges before us, an approach is presented that encourages us to examine the attitudes, perceptions, and relationships that will be critical to rebuilding the foundations for a future we can respect and believe in.  We are encouraged to rise above our differences to put principle into practice in our local communities.

With insights into how personal freedom and empowerment can be realized despite the obstacles we face, and how our ability to live and work with our neighbors depends on our own self-confidence and discipline, it proposes basic requirements for a return to stability and offers a practical vision for an honorable prosperity.

Until the book is published, most blog posts will be excerpted from chapters of the manuscript that remain in draft.  Several full chapters are also made available in draft, as well as an Introduction to the book and a tentative Table of Contents.  Thoughtful responses from readers, and dialog among readers, will be welcomed and greatly appreciated.  Rules of engagement are posted on the homepage.

Recent Posts

Yes, Americans Do Have Differences

I wrote recently of the value of teamwork in meeting local needs and making our communities safe (January 15).  I argued that faced with oncoming crises we would do well to respond in a constructive spirit – yet prepare for frustrations.

Working with neighbors can make a big difference in security and comfort. Agreement about practical needs and a willingness to focus on common purpose will make it easier to make things work.

This means rising above our differences to connect as allies and collaborators.  But, it will not be necessary to compromise our personal views and beliefs.  It is essential that we maintain our personal dignity and self-respect.

As we take on local problem-solving the challenge is to be both self-confident within ourselves – and respectful of others.

It can certainly be difficult to work with people.  Some difficulties are easier to overcome than others.  We can often make interpersonal connections with thoughtfulness and sensitivity, but sometimes it takes great patience and determination.

Why should we make this effort?

The coming days and years will redefine the meaning of crisis for everyone.  Safety will require that we can depend on our neighbors.  Learning how to listen well and understand one another will become an important part of learning how to survive and prevail in the face of great challenges.

The science fiction writer, Robert A. Heinlein once commented, “I never learned from a man who agreed with me.”

Coming to understand the personality and perspective of another person can be useful in itself, even if no possibility of agreement exists.

This can be the means for crystallizing our own thinking and beliefs.  And, if we approach it as a learning experience we will have much to gain, including knowledge, skills, and perspective.

Aristotle is believed to have said that “it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

Well, Aristotle did not attend high school, and neither have some of us.  But, it is our job to figure out what he meant and learn how to do it.

Aggravation aside, we are all capable of respecting the sincerity and intrinsic integrity of every human being, allowing our differences to exist freely in their own space, distinct from the roles of community-member, teammate, or friend.

Suppose we find ourselves dealing with a person who presents us with special challenges – perhaps someone who does not believe effective community is possible, or who values their privacy to an extreme, or is just unreceptive?

It is almost always possible to work with someone who we find difficult if we are determined to find a way.

It is prudent to remember, however, that in such circumstances we cannot allow ourselves be emotionally needy or easily disheartened.  Such an effort calls for backbone as well as a positive attitude and a generous spirit.

The wise do not impose themselves until they obtain a hearing.

If, however, we are able to plant the seeds of community in the fertile soil of the human heart, and water them gently with compassion and kindness, we may not have to wait long before the green shoots spring forth.

Often it is impossible to know why someone remains unresponsive despite our best efforts.  Pain is often hidden there, whether or not it is conscious.  And, caring will always give solace, however silently it is received.

When we make ourselves present in the life of another without expectation or demand, healing can take place even without our knowing – until the dam breaks and the words flow.

It might take days, weeks, or years.  But it will come.

In a little book called “The Miracle of Dialogue” (1963), the Christian theologian Dr. Reuel L. Howe wrote that “every man is a potential adversary, even those whom we love.  Only through dialogue are we saved from this enmity toward one another. Dialogue is to love what blood is to the body…. When dialogue stops, love dies and resentment and hate are born.

Tom

Note to readers: Watch for the next post on or about February 28.

A new chapter (in draft), “Confronted by the Past,” was posted on this page last weekend.  A project description and introduction to the coming book can also be found with the links above.  Please see especially Chapter One: American Crucible.

  1. The Price of Freedom 2 Replies
  2. The Problem of Trust and the Future of Humanity 1 Reply
  3. The Promise and Reward in Teamwork 1 Reply
  4. Self-reliance: Local, Dependable 1 Reply
  5. Where is the Baseline? 1 Reply
  6. Responsibility and Trust in America 1 Reply
  7. Toward A Stronger America 2 Replies
  8. Stepping Forward, Taking Ownership 1 Reply
  9. Independent and On Our Own 4 Replies
  10. Freedom Road 2 Replies
  11. Darkness Before the Dawn 1 Reply