Thurman P. Woodfork

SWEET LIBERTY

How much do people who have always had true liberty actually value it? I remember, years ago, standing at the window of my hotel room in Madrid watching a kid of about twelve or fourteen walking down the street. I could tell from his carriage more than by the cut of his clothing that he was an American.

He strode self-assuredly through the Spaniards around him – proud people themselves – as though he owned their streets. He had the arrogance of freedom, that innate confidence that comes from enjoying unfettered national liberty; he had never known anything else in his young life. Even though he was momentarily alone in a foreign country, he was an American, and special, and he knew it. But, I fear those days are history; Americans can no longer blithely stride along the world’s avenues, and this is leading to a domestic crisis.

There are so many of us who grew up with that special awareness of being free, of being Americans. We take our liberty for granted; so much so that we feel no special need to defend it from usurpation by fellow Americans. It is, after all, our right by birth as citizens of the United States. It has always been there for most of us.

We ingested liberty with our mothers’ milk and it’s difficult for us to believe that other Americans – who seem to espouse our own beliefs – would, for their own selfish purposes, conspire to take it away from us. We do, after all, have “Constitutional Guarantees.” Our attention is focused sharply outward on foreign terrorists and not inward toward domestic duplicity.

This allows us to fall under the sway of alarmist, pseudo-patriotic rhetoric from politicians who were elected to office to protect our interests. Unfortunately, they’re more concerned with advancing the interests of the multi-national corporations that line their pockets than they are with safeguarding the rights of the electorate. America is slowly losing its liberty even as we common folk band together to defend it. We’re unmindful that most of the people who lead us never before personally lifted a hand in defense of the freedoms of anyone outside their own circle.

I stand in baffled frustration as I watch the people head obediently off to figurative shearing sheds to have their liberties clipped, baaing contentedly like well-fed sheep under the deceitful direction of lupine shepherds and their sheepdogs. Even the rams… especially the rams… trot along dutifully. Who is there to protect us from these modern-day wolves that have taken deception a step farther and now wear shepherds’ clothing? To protest is to be seen as seditious, which in itself is a diminution of liberty. My, my, what big teeth you have, dear Guardians of the Republic’s Liberty!

Submitted for the May 2003 IWVPA Club Theme Project, “Liberty