The Cost of Freedom and Rights

“We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defence.”

Barack Obama

Although he needs no introduction, Obama was the 44th President of the United States. He and his family occupied the White House from 2009 to 2017 and suffered great stress as they bravely coped with hatred from those who could not accept a black president. He spoke these words at the Democratic National Convention on September 6, 2012, as he accepted his party’s nomination to run for re-election as President.

Barack Obama is not a hero because he was without flaws. There is no leader, past or present, who completed their stewardship without making errors. History will judge the decisions Obama made in the White House; I will not. I will write this post as a celebration of one man’s faith in himself, in his country, and in humanity.

As a Canadian, I have a stake in what goes on south of our border in the United States. I have many friends and literary colleagues living there and I am concerned about the angst they live with as they navigate their lives in a bitterly divided nation. While I understand that Barack Obama is a flashpoint that has contributed to American disunity; this is not what he stood for as a man or as President of the United States.

The opening words of the passage quoted above speak to the very heart of citizenship in any free, democratic society. Every single citizen has responsibilities as well as rights. What are these responsibilities? I think the most important one is to stand up and defend the common good. With so many diverse interests competing against each other, citizens must insist that leaders exercise courage and wisdom to reach the necessary compromises that will serve the common good. Too many of us have lost sight of the goal of the common good, and too many of us remain silent, sullenly refuse to vote, and therefore, fail in our duty to insist that our leaders act on behalf of everyone.

Obama rightly points out that our destinies are bound together. A nation can be strong and successful only with the combined efforts of all the stakeholders. Unfortunately, too many people in our western democracies feel disenfranchised. Government decisions are influenced by and for the benefit of the rich and powerful few at the expense of the many. We can debate all day about how this situation came about and who is really to blame but it really doesn’t matter because the blame game provides no solutions. It is an exercise in futility.

Some are touting frightening predictions about the demise of American civilization. They claim that Americans are so deeply divided that they will tear themselves and this once proud nation asunder. That is one possible outcome but I have stated to my good friend, Jill Dennison in Ohio, that I don’t believe that I’ll live to see that day. I have personally met many wonderful people in America, both in-person and online, and I have faith that they will rally to President Obama’s call.

Oh really? Oh yes! Obama speaks about love, charity, duty and patriotism in that 2012 speech. Despite the ugliness, we see in the mainstream media every day, My friend Jill Dennison goes beyond the political morass and finds stories about ordinary Americans who put themselves out to help others in need. The characteristics Obama highlights are alive and well in American society. We all need to widen our focus to see and acknowledge this truth.

We have it within us to rise to the challenge. To return to the ideals of democratic leaders who founded our nations and to act in the best interests of the common good. We used to put these ideas in the context of building a better nation. Today, the environmental crisis we face forces us to think outside the boxes of our individual countries and to put the good of the planet and all of humanity before our own personal interests.

Are we going to give in to the hopelessness and despair fostered by our current problems or are we going to dig deep and find that courage within us to rally to cause of goodness, truth, love and charity – for the benefit of all?

Failure is unthinkable.

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (http://fiorabooks.com), to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

19 thoughts on “The Cost of Freedom and Rights”

  1. Hi, John, this is a great tribute to the first, and we hope not the last, black President of this great nation. America remains a great nation because in spite of all the prejudices, and the racism at the base of this great nation, it stomached a back man’s presidency for eight years. This proves, indeed, that God decides who rules, and not man.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, John, for your thoughtful post. I’ve been traveling and am just now trying to catch up. While with friends in California, one explained that she was very angry over the current political scene. She proceeded to focus her hate on Christians, as she believes they elected the current president. I was stunned and very saddened.

    It seems to me that the divisions are such that people are losing the ability to talk with one another. If someone does not share another’s anger or hate, then that person is an enemy or a fool. This is a terrifying situation.

    I don’t claim to have answers, but I diligently try to keep my heart open to see the goodness in each person. When it comes to political figures, that can be very difficult. But, I truly believe our future depends upon it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Gwen! Thanks for your heartfelt comment. As a Canadian, I’m terrified by what’s going on in your country. I think your friend is right that the Evangelical Christians powered Trump and company into power in 2016. I guess I’m most concerned about the hatred that is running rampant in many “free democratic” societies today. That hatred has been fueled by the constant stream of lies emanating from Trump and his bootlickers in Congress. If Americans re-elect Trump later this year, the whole world will be imperilled. I don’t think reconciliation among the citizens of the US is possible under a Trump administration. And I don’t think that reconciliation will come easily after Trump is gone. Of course, he says he won’t leave no matter what. He is such a sharp contrast to Barack Obama who had decency, integrity, and a scandal-free 8 years in office. And yet he was hated. I pray you guys can fix this mess.

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  3. Well said, John. America is suffering right now, and she truly is divided. Our allies are worried for us, and our foes are thrilled to see our division and hope to benefit from it. Our elected leaders have forgotten their roles and their duties and are focused solely on their personal and political gains, and our citizens have forgotten their American values and are focused on making sure their side wins. 😢 I can only hope that this next election can somehow bring us back to the middle where people talked to one another with respect and worked together for the common good. 🤞🏼🙏🏼

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is always enlightening to gain perspective from another’s perspective and yours gives one hope for a brighter future for our country. As you noted, it is sorely needed here these days. I am reminded of these words that are attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt : “The war for freedom will never really be won because the price of freedom is constant vigilance over ourselves and over our government.” These words are just as true now as when they were spoken. Thank-you!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you, John, for such an honest and heartfelt post! You are right. We live in a nation divided against itself and I don’t like it one bit! I hope I do not live to see the day that America crumbles from within, but unless things change, I am afraid that is the destiny, much like the great city of Atlantis that met its demise. Hatred is so prevalent, and the rhetoric we see coming out of the White House only adds fuel to the burning fire. I pray for a change!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey John! This is an excellent post, and thank you so much for the mention and link! It’s so strange how we have turned 180° from President Obama who, though not perfect, had integrity, honour and dignity, and had the best interests of the nation and the world at heart, to … a self-serving megalomaniac. Sigh. I take my inspiration to keep my head above water from you and David, both of you give me reason to hope we will come out of this chaos with our lives and maybe even our sanity intact. An aside … I think WordPress does not want me to follow your blog! I keep following, don’t see any posts from you, then when I check, I find that I’m not following! I’ve selected “follow” some 3-4 times now over the past few months! 🙄

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A great post John. And Happy New Year to you and yours. I hope this year is a turning point away from this populist division. Unity is always best. Trump and Johnson have been feeding raw meat to their tribe and stoking up the hate. It’s repulsive. Divide and rule!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. WP has done the same to me with Roger’s new blog … I keep having to “follow” … but finally, I am getting notifications of his new posts, so I shall persevere and WP will eventually recognize that I want to follow your blog!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Funny, Jill, I replied to this comment on my phone but it never made it to this post – maybe WordPress doesn’t like me either! Thanks for your kind words – I do my best to shake off the depression and embrace hope. As long as we don’t throw in the towel, we’ll prevail!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Keep hanging in, my friend … surely there must be better days ahead. At least you’ve still got Trudeau! I will email soon … I’ve been so overwhelmed of late that I haven’t even had time to think, especially with the holidays. Next year, I’m going to hide out in a cave (if I can find one with WiFi) from Hallowe’en ’til after New Years!

        Liked by 1 person

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