That’s that bracing line from the great patriotic hymn, “America the Beautiful.” It’s a line that reminds us what true freedom is all about. We can never be free if we are slaves to our passions and carnal urges. We can never be free if we are dominated by our fears. It’s a line that reminds us that democracy can only work if first we learn to govern ourselves. “Confirm thy soul in self-control!”
I read an interesting article about the Statue of Liberty. It claimed that the French liberals who designed the statue intended Lady Liberty to stand as a statement against some of the spirit and philosophy of the French Revolution. In the wake of that revolution a mob of rebels profaned the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris by placing at the altar a statue of the “Goddess of Reason” in the form of a half-naked prostitute.
The designers of the Statue of Liberty wanted to make it clear that our Lady Liberty would be, to borrow a French phrase, no femme fatale. In contrast to the spirit of the French Revolution, the American vision of freedom is not one that is divorced from a moral code and time-tested religious truths. It is not one that is characterized by unrestraint or, to borrow another French phrase, a carte blanche uninhibitedness that allows one to succumb to whatever whim may strike.
Instead the designers of the Statue of Liberty wanted her to look maybe like one of your grade-school teachers. She is a woman who has a stern countenance and eyes looking intently into the distance. This lady knows that discipline will be required to move us purposely toward our destiny.
The torch in her right hand exposes the darkness of foolishness and disordered passions. In her left hand is the book of the law. It is law that ensures our liberty. A Boeing 747 can soar only if it submits to the laws of aerodynamics. So too can humans soar only when we align our lives according to the God-given natural law and moral truths.
Our national Independence Day is coming up. It’s a day in which we always cringe because we realize how quickly summer is passing. Let it also be a day that reminds us that, yes, our days and lives do march rapidly forward. Let’s make sure we are on the right path.
Have a great Fourth of July. Celebrate nobly!