The concept of “freedom” has been on my mind a lot this year, especially since I taught U.S. History this past year to a group of high school students. I learned a LOT about the freedom that Americans purchased with their sweat, blood, and often their very lives.
Teaching the class reminded me of all of the many brave and intelligent people who came before us, people who lived with integrity, honesty, and for the greater good of the nation.
Teaching the class reminded me of the hardships, the difficulties, and the sacrifices that it takes to maintain freedom.
Teaching the class reminded me of what happens when governments grow too big and gain too much power.
Teaching the class reminded me of how quickly people can lose their freedom if they’re too easily swayed by the culture around them. After all, Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and within ten short years had destroyed half of Europe.
Can those of us who live in free countries lose our freedom?
It’s scary to think about. But if it happened in the past, it can certainly happen again . . .
If we’re not on guard.
If we let others think for us instead of thinking for ourselves.
If we allow ourselves to be swept up in cultural fads and popular opinion.
If we become passive and think that the “problem” will soon pass.
If we allow ourselves to be frightened to stand up for truth.
If we fear persecution for opposing what isn’t right.
I’m sure there were plenty of Germans who opposed Hitler’s philosophies, those who thought for themselves, who didn’t get swept up in the popular opinions of the time.
But did they stand up for the truth while they still had time? Or did too many sit on the sidelines with the belief that the fad would soon pass?
I love reading stories about people who defied Hitler like this one this week in the Business Insider: “The tragically powerful story behind the lone German who refused to give Hitler the Nazi salute.” There were people who stood up for freedom and faced persecution as a result.
However, how did the people of Germany reach the point where they’d lost complete control of their personal freedoms? And how do we keep that from ever happening again?
During this weekend of celebrating freedom, I pray that we will never take our freedoms for granted. That we will be on guard, that we will think more deeply about issues instead of letting media and culture sway us so easily. That we will stay strong and stand up for the truth no matter the personal cost.
Freedom always comes with a price. Usually a very high price. After all, the freedom Christ purchased for us came with the cost of his life.
Maybe we won’t need to sacrifice our lives to maintain our freedom. Yet. But it is time for us to step up, be alert, and to stand guard. We can’t let our freedoms to slip away while we’re busy with our lives. Instead, we need to cherish and protect it as the treasure it truly is.