Patriotic holidays usually get me pondering quite a bit on the topic of politics and the current predicament our country is in financially. With the Fourth of July holiday just past, words like freedom, independence, and liberty all flop around in our minds until they become so ingrained within our everyday jargon, we stop remember what those words truly mean. On top of that, we also forget what those words are truly worth to our everyday lives. Nonetheless, in American society today there is a greater negative fervor and dissatisfaction with the “American dream” than ever before. People have realized that most of what we call freedom and liberty has been so perverted and misconstrued that they simply walk away and turn their backs on the USA, or at least its suggested way of life.
If you read your paper or your internet news site, you will notice an ever-increasing number of protests and alternative lifestyles combatting with the American dream. People are no longer wishing for a nice house and a sports car; now they are planting gardens and focusing on community renewal. The Green revolution has been sweeping the nation of late, but no one has uttered that the “hippies” and the conservationist have been pushing the green revolution for decades. But with a vast growing economy of the 1990s, including the growing empires like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart, no one listened. Now with our economy in shambles and people on the edge of losing everything, citizens are reconsidering these alternative ways of living and they are beginning to believe there is something powerful and renewing about it.
So this is the question I have been thinking about so often lately: Are these people right? Do they have a point and should we all step back and re-evaluate the way we live our lives in this country where we are free to live our lives?
These questions remind me of a historical group that went through the same dilemma that we are facing now. They were the first followers of Jesus. These were people who were fed up with the life Rome had to offer them, and set out on a journey to find a more abundant life. But why would the early Christians want reject the greatest empire in the world? There are old sayings that Rome was magical and dazzling. It is said that the whole world stood in awe of her. The Jewish historian, Josephus, said that Rome’s military was “irresistible” and “beautiful”. Aristides stated that “if anyone wants to see beauty on earth, travel to Rome. Everything grows and exists in Rome in abundance . . . anything that you do not see in Rome does not exist or is not accountable”. Everything was bigger and better in Rome. Jesus Christ lived in the golden age of Rome. So if Rome had everything to offer these people, these Christians, then why did the early followers of Jesus not want any part in the paradise of abundance and gold?
The simple answer is because they found a better and more intricate life in simpler and honorable things. As we live in the greatest country of the world, know that you have the freedom to love others and live a life that looks nothing like the American Dream if you choose. True liberty is liberating the captives. Moreover, true freedom is not the right to do what you want; it is the right to have the freedom to better yourself and others.