Can you imagine your life without freedom? Nowhere to turn for justice. Government being the source of oppression rather than protection. For those of us fortunate enough to live in the United States of America, it is easy to take for granted the unparalleled liberty we've experienced for over 200 years. Unless you are a serious student of world history or have traveled extensively, you actually may not recognize how unique, rare, and precious the blessings of liberty really are.
The best estimates of how many people have ever lived on the earth range from 100 billion to 110 billion. Freedom House estimates that currently on the planet approximately 3 billion people live in "free" nations. It has been estimated that about 554 million people have lived in freedom in the United States since 1780. We can guess that about another billion have lived in the free nations of Europe as they have emerged and disappeared in spurts. Even being generous in those estimates, this would represent about 4% to 5% of all people who have ever lived. Does that seem crazy to you? There's more. Yale professor Robert Dahl could identify only 22 nations with a democracy older than 50 years. Even now when we think of democracy and freedom to be a norm there are only 22 nations that have lived under a democratic form of government for a single lifetime. Costa Rica was the only Latin American country. The only one in the middle east was Israel. The only one in all of Asia was Japan. If we measure freedom by the 5 basic freedoms outlined by America’s founding fathers, only about 5% of everyone who has lived and is living on the planet have lived under these conditions.
Dr. Walter Williams said, "Mankind's history is one of systematic, arbitrary abuse and control by the elite. It is a tragic history where hundreds of millions of unfortunate souls have been slaughtered, mostly by their own government. A historian writing 200 to 300 years from now might view the liberties that existed for a tiny portion of mankind’s population, mostly in the western world, for only a tiny portion of its history, as a historical curiosity that defies explanation. That historian might also observe that the curiosity was only a temporary phenomenon, and mankind soon reverted back to the traditional state of affairs – arbitrary control and abuse."
If our children and grandchildren are to live as free men and women, we must all understand how precious and rare our liberty is. Democracy and freedom can be lost. A nation may be democratic for a period of time and then revert to despotism. Over the past 225 years, this has been shown time and time again. The experience of Germany between World War I and World War II is a great example, and it was true for Italy, Spain and other countries as well. From 1783 till 1828, the United States stood entirely alone in the world as a free republic. From 1828 to 1926, there was a move of freedom as European nations began to join America as free nations, but many of these nations reverted back to fascist and repressive regimes. This same pattern happened again from World War II until 1962.
Even now, some formerly friendly democracies are anti-American. Powerful countries like China, Russia, and Venezuela along with aggressively repressive regimes like North Korea and Iran seek to expand their influence. Considering this, is there any doubt that history is capable of repeating itself? It is entirely possible that our children or grandchildren might once again live under the abusive hands of powerful and vicious tyrants. If that were to happen here, I could foresee that the precious thing we call liberty could become nothing more than a memory.
How do we preserve our flawed but amazing republic? Vote, live right, and tell the next generations what it really means to be free. We must tell them wow important it is, how much it has cost, and how much it’s worth fighting for.
The Battle Hymn of the Republic has a powerful stanza: "As He (Jesus) died to make men holy, let us live to make men free." As we celebrate Independence Day this year, may our hearts be filled with gratitude and a willingness to preserve our freedoms. God bless you, and God bless America!