During his State of the Union address in 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt identified “Four Freedoms” that all humanity should enjoy: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear. These freedoms are, of course, the cornerstones of any nation that cherishes the rights of its citizens. Americans have long presumed that protecting these freedoms is the mission of every elected official in our nation, but today it seems these get lost in discussions and proposals that are too idiotic and impractical for anywhere other than a beer-fueled bull session in a freshman dorm room.
2020 has perhaps been the year when all our fantasies about America were cruelly ripped from our grasp, and these Four Freedoms suddenly became superfluous due to other agendas that are in conflict with our basic American liberties.
We are now told that Freedom of Speech is both undesirable and dangerous. Armies of Associate Deans, social media censors, and pettifogging bureaucrats of all types today work tirelessly to ensure that speaking our minds will result in banishment, punishment, or both.
At precisely the point in America’s history when the comforts of faith are so necessary, we are told that Walmart and lottery ticket sales are essential, but churches, synagogues, and mosques are not. Just a year ago it would have been impossible to imagine government officials demanding that houses of worship be padlocked and parishioners arrested.
Many have been left wanting due to governmental policies explicitly designed to close businesses and send people home to try to stretch their unemployment checks beyond what is possible. Hunger and homelessness are the legacies that damn our present and will haunt our futures.
Freedom from Fear? The very notion is but a sick joke for our nation and its people. Our fears today are too many to count.
However, as odd as it might seem, I see a glimmer of hope as we crash into 2021. American are rediscovering the “Fifth Freedom” that we often forget underpins the Four Freedoms and every other freedom our nation must strive to sanctify: “The Freedom to Refuse to Obey”. Our rebellious heritage and restless spirits make us naturally suspicious of those who rule us, so Americans shun blind obedience. We require reasonable explanations in exchange for our acquiescence, and skepticism is baked into our national DNA.
There are many concerns about the direction of our nation today. We see more and more pushback against Covid-19 mandates that are leading to their own epidemics of fear and misery. The looting and burning of our nation’s cities this past summer after the death of George Floyd led to many questions but provided few answers. The inquiries about the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election—and whether chicanery was involved—have been silenced rather than addressed. Efforts to decriminalize drugs and legalize prostitution strike many as damaging attempts to encourage vice in order to generate tax revenues. The cruelty, dysfunction, and sadism of much of our supposed entertainment and daily discourse calls into question whether we have lost any sense of compassion and human dignity.
Big decisions lie ahead. I have no idea what the outcomes will be, but I do know this: No one should any longer count on our dull compliance. These formerly complacent and obedient dogs have rediscovered our very sharp teeth.