Trading Freedom for Leeks and Garlic
Friday, February 1, 2019
It is one of the saddest passages in all of Scripture. After more than 400 years of slavery, God had heard the cries of His people and delivered the Jews from captivity in Egypt. And when they were trapped between Pharaoh’s pursuing army and the Red Sea, He had allowed the Israelites to pass through on dry land before drowning Pharaoh’s men and destroying their chariots in the sea.
Now, a mere 45 days later, the Jews were looking with longing back to their previous servitude. Hungry and thirsty, they criticized their leaders, Moses and Aaron, and complained loudly to God.
“Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full,” they cried. Although angered by their complaints, God responded by miraculously providing manna in the morning and quail in the evening.
But less than two years later, the Israelites were at it again. “Who will give us meat to eat?” they asked. “We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.”
Sounds preposterous, doesn’t it? And yet, like Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “There is nothing new under the sun.”
Which brings us to the United States of America in the year 2019.
Two hundred and forty-three years ago, men named Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock pledged their “lives, fortunes and sacred honor” to the cause of American Independence. These patriots believed in liberty and freedom so completely and irrevocably that they were willing to risk everything they had – including their very lives – for that great cause.
Imagine, if you will, that just 45 days after signing the Declaration of Independence, most of the 56 signers started to have second thoughts. Instead of courageously forging ahead, they began looking back wistfully to the days of British tyranny, when tea and crumpets were plentiful.
Unconscionable, you say? Franklin, Adams and Hancock would never do that. Neither, for that matter, would George Washington or Patrick Henry.
And yet, isn’t that exactly what 21st century Americans are doing today? Forgetting that Americans are guaranteed “the pursuit of happiness” but not happiness itself, we gaze lustfully across the Atlantic Ocean to Sweden, Denmark and other socialized countries where education is “free” and universal healthcare is provided. Lost in the equation is the fact that these same countries tax their citizens at rates well above 50%, with a national sales tax (VAT) tacking on another 20-25% surcharge.
For those not so gifted at math, that means that Sweden confiscates 70-90% of every paycheck in order to provide “free” government services. Still sound like utopia to you?
Therein lies the problem. Polls show that an increasing (and alarming) number of Americans would willingly sign away their personal freedoms – and personal responsibilities – to a federal government that would take care of their basic needs.
Yes, the sound you just heard was Thomas Jefferson rolling over in his grave.
The problems with such a “cradle to grave” mentality are multitudinous. First, citizens who forfeit the right to chart their own course and forge their own destiny never mature beyond the infant stage. Rather than being weaned from their mother’s breast at an early age, they remain permanently attached to “Big Nanny’s” teat.
Second, who is to say that this same “Big Nanny” doesn’t turn on her forever-adolescent children at some point? And third, with aging populations across the globe requiring more and more public services, what is preventing their host governments from confiscating even more of their personal wealth to pay for it?
Benjamin Franklin famously said that, “Those who would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” That is one of the many reasons why he was called, “The First American.” In other words, to be an American, a true American, a patriotic – pull yourself up by your own bootstraps – American, means to value freedom and independence above all other virtues.
Sounds to me like ol’ Ben wouldn’t feel at home in Stockholm…and neither would I.