The Principle of Freedom, Part 4
Let Freedom Ring
Interesting synchronicity today. Just as I was about to wrap up my postings on freedom one of our Lurkers sent me this writing about the fate of those who signed the Declaration of Independence. I had been wanting a copy of this and am happy to share it.
THE FATE OF THE SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
“Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
“They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
“Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags. Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.
“Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton. At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr, noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt. Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
“John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates. Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
“They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told you a lot about what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn’t fight just the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government! Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn’t. So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It’s not much to ask for the price they paid. Remember: freedom is never free! I hope you will show your support by please sending this to as many people as you can. It’s time we get the word out that patriotism is NOT a sin, and the Fourth of July has more to it than beer, picnics, and baseball games. “ Author Unknown
When one reads about such acts of courage and sacrifice for freedom you cannot but wonder if such brave souls would surface today in a similar struggle for freedom.
One of the problems in finding such courage is that the situation in much of the world is so different today than it was for those rebels of long ago.
The foundation of the United States was preceded by over a 100 years of immigrants leaving their native lands of oppression in search for greater opportunity and freedom. After getting a taste of greater freedom and then to have the threat of it all taken away by King George nullifying all their efforts was more than they could bear. Freedom lovers like Patrick Henry stood up and declared “Give me liberty or give me death!”
Then there were many others who pledged their “lives, their property and their sacred honor,” for the cause of freedom.
What I found interesting about this was the phrase: “sacred honor.” When you think about it how long has it been since we have heard anyone great or small refer to their sacred honor? We seem to live in an age where honor is not even an item under consideration, let alone have sacredness attached to it.
Yet the concept of sacred honor must be retrieved and taught by disciples of the coming age. Keeping our word, telling the truth and the honor of trust and reliability behind a name must have a place among us if true discipleship and a service to the Great Ones is to be achieved.
The problem in this age is that many have settled down in an atmosphere of restrictions that have so gradually overcome us that none have thought to protest.
The words of Isaiah are fitting here:
“For thus saith the Lord GOD, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause. Now therefore, what have I here, saith the LORD, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the LORD; and my name continually every day is blasphemed…. and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped.” Isa 52:4 & 10:14
This is a fitting description of one who has never known true freedom or had them gradually taken away by the subtle beast of authority.
One advantage that the Founding Fathers had is that King George made a bold move that made it obvious that the newly found freedoms would soon be taken back if something were not done.
In this age we face a similar problem in many lands except that the loss is so incremental that no alarm goes off to sound the necessary wake up call.
I read an interesting book in the 80’s about life in the Soviet Union some time before the Berlin Wall came down. It was written by a New York Times corespondent and there was one incident he related that revealed much. As the author was waiting for a commercial airliner to take off a couple officials entered the passenger section and pointed to several passengers and ordered them off the plane. They were simply told that communist officials needed their seats. One man stood up and pleaded to them that he be able to keep his seat as their was a death or illness in his family and it was essential that he stay on the plane. With no sympathy at all for the man’s situation he was arrested and taken away.
Then the clincher happened. Behind the author were several ladies who were commenting on the situation and one said to the other something like this: “Isn’t it a disgrace how these young people have no respect for authority these days?”
The author said that the other lady seemed to agree and commented that this was a prevailing attitude among many in that State.
Reading this woke me up to a realization that even though the people of my country seemed to have a low appreciation of true freedom that the acceptance of restriction and conformity was even greater in other countries. It also came to me at that moment that the people of each nation have about as much freedom as their consciousness can accept. Many people there are in totalitarian regimes who are not crying out for more freedom, but completely accept their restrictions and look on freedom as an adventure into irresponsibility.
We in the free world and now many in developing Russia have a greater appreciation of freedom, but even here a wider range of freedom is often seen as irresponsibility.
To insure the progress of freedom the principle must be taught and reinforced so that it permeates the consciousness of society. Only by creating a sense of personal responsibility and a consciousness of freedom can we insure that our world will not slip back into slavery.
Let me present the principle governing freedom that I believe is adhered to by the Brotherhood of Light.
All steps toward the liberation of the soul are proceeded by a greater sense and power of freedom in the life of the disciple. As the seeker progresses on the path adherence to freedom is always increasing and never decreasing. Any decrease in the embracement of freedom signifies retrogression in progression.
Therefore, for the worker of light, every decision, every thought and every action should support that energy that moves in the direction of greater freedom for the whole of the group as well as for the individual.
A reasonable and logical degree of risk is accepted by the disciple in the quest for expansion of freedom.
Spiritual progressions is directly proportional to a person’s understanding and acceptance of the principle of freedom, therefore let us contemplate that principle and embrace the greater livingness.
June 20, 2000
Copyright by J J Dewey
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