It’s so easy for us to have opinions about everything. And let’s be completely honest here, most of the time, we only know what we know and don’t care what we don’t. How many times have you shared something without checking the source, seeing whether it is true or false, or how old the post was? We don’t care what we don’t know. What we do know is we agree with whatever we are posting. Come on now, you know it’s true. Scroll down your facebook home page right now, it’s undeniable.
And in countries like the US, we feel it is a right to share our opinions whether they are right or not. Everyone is for something and in turn, everyone is against something. And yet, we are able to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance with no problem. Even if we go back to the very first wording, the last few words are, “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Is that really who we are?
Sometimes it doesn’t really feel like we are one nation. And I can tell you right now we aren’t ‘indivisible.’ And can we ever truly have ‘liberty and justice for all?” For all? All who?
If we look back at what Liberty meant in the 1800, when this line was composed, we see The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 defined liberty in Article 4 as follows:
Liberty consists of being able to do anything that does not harm others: thus, the exercise of the natural rights of every man or woman has no bounds other than those that guarantee other members of society the enjoyment of these same rights.
Read that again, “being able to do anything that does not harm others.” Anything? Can we really live like that? I guess the issue is more with what is harmful to someone, isn’t it?
It almost seems in today’s world, everyone is out for their own version of liberty and justice. And everyone has their own definition for harm. Again, we don’t care about what we don’t know or about what doesn’t affect us.
Liberty and justice for all … as we walk past homeless people in our local town and give 15.1 million to international charities and 10.5 billion to environmental and animal organizations.
(Please note: I am not opposed to any of these, just showing the contrast.)
Liberty and justice for all … as we close businesses because they won’t bake a cake but are accepting of organizations such as Miss Black America, Miss Asian America, and Miss Latina US pageants. On is discrimination, one is not.
(Please note: I am fine if someone doesn't bake me a cake because they don't share my beliefs. And I am fine with having a variety of pageants. They are listed here to show the contrast.)
Liberty and justice for all … as we provide refugees with government support camps and many of our veterans live on the streets with little to no government support.
(Please note: I do not oppose one and support another, just showing the contrast.)
Liberty and justice for all … as we guarantee a warm place to sleep and three meals a day to criminals when there are kids who are not guaranteed either.
(Please note: I do not oppose housing and feeding criminals. this just shows a contrast.)
Liberty and justice for all … really? Can that even be something which is achievable? Can we really do anything, ANYTHING, we want, as long as it doesn’t harm others? Can we enact our own justice because we don’t agree with something that someone else did while expressing their own liberty?
In each of these circumstances, the people were only exercising their own liberties, and yet, some were acceptable, and some were not. Some carried consequences, and some did not. We don’t care about what we don’t know, only about that which we do know.
Here’s the thing. It seems to me that liberty and justice for all comes when we are willing to lay down our own liberty and justice. When we are each willing to do whatever we have to in order to live at peace with others. When we no longer pitch a fit because a cup becomes all red without meaningless words on them. Or when regardless of whether a clerk say, ‘Merry Christmas,’ ‘Happy Holidays,’ or ‘Bah Humbug,’ to us, we respond with a smile and say, “Same to you.”
Liberty and justice for all can be achieved when harm is defined as abuse and neglect and not preference. How a company decorates their cup doesn’t not harm anyone.
Liberty and justice for all means people no longer have to worry about:
- Physical abuse – such as punching, hitting, slapping, burning etc
- Sexual abuse – forcing someone to take part in sexual activity against their will
- Psychological or emotional abuse – threatening, harassing or intimidating a person
- Constraints and restrictive practices – restraining or isolating people other than for medical necessity or to prevent immediate self harm
- Financial abuse – the wrongful use of another person’s assets or denying a person the use of their own assets
- Physical neglect – failure to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing and protection. Supervision medical or dental care that places people at undue risk through unsafe environments or practices
- Passive neglect – withholding or failure to provide the necessities of life
- Willful deprivation – willfully denying a person assistance and thereby exposing that person to the risk of physical, mental or emotional harm
- Emotional neglect – restricting the social, intellectual and emotional growth or well being of a person
Yes, when we finally stop lumping a difference of opinions, political views, thoughts, beliefs, and race in the same boat as abuse and neglect, we may actually be able to achieve liberty and justice for all.
Until then, all we have is a bunch of people, out for themselves and pushing their own agenda. Self-centered Selfishness.
If we truly want to be Free2Live with liberty and justice for all, we will have to become willing to fight against those things that truly harm others and let some of the other stuff, our own opinions, go. Then maybe, we can really be a nation Free2Live as “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
For those of us who call ourselves Christian, we are called to this kind of Liberty and Justice for all:
Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. …
… It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. …
… It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time … (excerpts from MSG version)