Freedom our heritage won for us
“A free society is a moral achievement,” the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote in a book published just months before his passing. Freedom does not come from economic policies or political power, he observed. It requires morality, which Rabbi Sacks defined as “a concern for the welfare of others, an active commitment to justice and compassion, a willingness to ask not just what is good for me but what is good for ‘all of us together.’ It is about ‘Us,’ not ‘Me’; about ‘We,’ not ‘I.’”
Just as the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us to exercise an abundance of caution, we could also use an abundance of care and compassion during these troubling times. The world seems so polarised, so divided, yet our desires to pull together can be stronger than the forces that pull us apart. And they must be, because we need one another. The problems our world faces today will not be solved by individuals or isolated groups. We face these problems together, and we will find solutions together. To do this, we need to talk with one another, listen to one another, respect differences, and acknowledge our shared humanity.
Sometimes we think complex problems require complex solutions. But the key to building a moral, compassionate society is surprisingly simple. It involves applying some ancient wisdom that is still relevant in our modern world: Love one another. Treat all with dignity. Share your blessings with the less fortunate. And give special attention to those who are sick in body and spirit. We “do these things,” Rabbi Sacks noted, “because, being human, we are bound by a covenant of human solidarity, whatever our colour or culture, class or creed.”
It’s true that living in a free society gives us some independence. But we still depend on one another. Preserving our freedom will require our cooperation and our compassion. Each of us plays a part in making our society moral and free by our habits of heart, thought, speech, and action. It is, indeed, “a moral achievement” to do what is good for all of us together.
For generations, wise men and women have observed that “freedom is never free.” The price of freedom is hard work and sacrifice, faith and resolve, commitment to the principles of independence. And this is not a price we can pay just once. The bill comes due again with each successive generation.
On one Independence Day parade at independence square, a little girl turned to her father, sitting beside her, and asked, “Why do we have parades? Why do people wave flags? Why do soldiers wear uniforms?” Her father smiled and explained that they were celebrating freedom. He reminded the girl of the meaning of the colours of our national flag. Red meaning the blood and toil of our fathers. He further explained how many of our great great grandparents had died to gain our independence. The little girl waved her flag to the military band music and seemed to understand.
In the midst of our parades and celebrations, we might pause to ponder this child’s questions in our own heart. Why do we raise flags and hold parades? Because every time we see flags along city streets, every time patriotic music pours from marching bands, every time we whisper a prayer of thanks to those who safeguard our freedom, our hearts swell with loyalty and love for country. The brilliant parades, picnics, and parties all remind us of the freedoms we enjoy and the allegiance we pledge.
More than a passive appreciation, our loyalty to liberty activates within us a desire to protect, uphold the good name of Ghana and pass on principles of freedom to the next generation.
As Ronald Reagan warned, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We did not pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
Every boy and girl, every man and woman, can do his or her part to promote and protect freedom. And as we do, our hearts will swell with a loyalty to liberty.
God bless our home land and defend it with true love and respect for all.
By Samuel Enos Eghan