WORDS HAVE MEANING: LOVE AND FREEDOM
By Marilyn M. Barnewall
January 8, 2012
How many of us have done things we wished we hadn’t – or spiritually deceived ourselves into accepting – because of the word love? We are told to love one another. We are told to love our neighbor and be our brother’s keeper. If we don’t understand the meaning of the word “love,” these acts can be impossible.
We cannot, for example, love another without first learning self-love. I don’t mean selfish love that’s based on a “me, me, me” attitude. I mean self-love that is based on self-respect and the realization that all people share our humanity.
I view God as total positive energy. I don’t suggest that view is right for anyone but me, but for me it is right. I believe we serve Him when we have positive energy and express it through our creativity. I believe when He breathed life into Adam that creative ability is the part of Himself that He gave us. Adam wasn’t a Jew or a Gentile, he was just a man God made out of dirt. I believe nothing makes our Creator more pleased with a creation than when the created uses the creative energy He gave us for a positive purpose.
Does God forgive us if we misbehave – exhibit negative energy? By Grace, yes… but that isn’t the point, is it? It was our Creator who told Moses, “Love thy neighbor AS THYSELF.” Analyzing those words, He was saying “You cannot give what you do not have.” Logic tells me the same thing and has equal application in all faiths.
Conservatives think loving their neighbor – being their brother’s keeper – means teaching the poor and downtrodden to fish. Liberals believe love means giving the poor and downtrodden a fish. Which definition of love is right? To judge truthfully, one must look at the long-term results of each act… teaching and giving.
When we teach someone to fish – when we train a person to work and be productive – it has a long-term effect on the recipient’s life. Properly taught and considerately planned, it provides life purpose and a career and of being able to support a family and send kids to college. When we give someone a fish day after day, what do we do? We teach people to be dependent on something outside of them – and that stifles their creative energy. We motivate laziness. Even worse, we motivate the recipient to lose the important drive to get out of bed each morning with the zest required to find meaning and purpose (of which happiness is made) in the day ahead.
In my early 20s, I was married to a police officer who, unknown to me, was involved in the Denver police scandal. One series of events fatalistically set off another series of events. I was destined to learn more about life in 1961 and 1962 than I wanted.
On November 1, 1960, a woman came through a stop sign and hit my car in the driver’s door. I was driving and was seven months pregnant. The car was flipped and ended up pointing South when I had been going North. No x-rays could be taken because of the pregnancy. I didn’t learn until the 1990s that I’d broken my pubic bone.
I carried the baby full term, was in hard labor for three days and felt fine after the birth. About two weeks after I went home, I fell on the floor in pain… the pubic bone. I was back in the hospital but everyone assumed I’d fully recovered from the accident and so no x-rays were ever taken. Two months later, Joe was arrested and his name (and mine) was on the front pages of the Denver newspapers. Horrible years followed.
I learned that the system of justice I’d been taught in school was non-existent. I learned that District Attorneys abuse their power and play cruel games that have little to do with justice or honor. Everything I had been taught to believe in was stripped from me. Looking back, it was one of the most positive experiences of my life and I thank God for what I learned during those years.
Joe went to prison – 52 Denver police officers went to prison. He was just a minor player who had caught guys in places and, after reporting the first incident to his Sergeant and receiving threats thereafter, kept quiet. I quickly learned to fight the system that was supposed to be there to protect people against power abuses. I had a job working as a legal secretary but had to have surgery (damage from the accident) and had no sick leave. So, I snuck out of the hospital two days after the surgery and returned to work. My parents had just divorced after 32 years and there was no family support system in place. With Joe in prison, I was the provider. I caught pneumonia and had to go on welfare. At the time, I could type 92 words per minute and I could write. My education would be achieved and paid for by me over the coming years.
The purpose of this long-ago story is to tell you one of the most valuable lessons I have learned in life. Though I was only on welfare for three months, I learned that the cost of something for nothing is human dignity. Society cannot remove the dignity people find when they live a purposeful existence and then expect them to behave like dignified human beings.
It was at that point in my life I became a conservative. I was unaware that’s what I was, but that’s what I was. I learned that teaching someone to fish is a far more loving way to extend a charitable hand than is giving someone something for nothing.
The giving of the free fish makes givers feel good about themselves – but is that how we define love of neighbor? No. It isn’t. No mature, sane person defines love in this way. The giver of the fish probably won’t admit it, but providing the fish is an exercise in power… and love isn’t an exercise in one ego dominating another ego.
What about the word “charity?”
To be charitable is to be kind. I would repeat the meaning of love and merely ask: Is it kinder to give your neighbor or your brother a fish? Or is it kinder to teach him to fish? Which has the best long-term impact on the person’s life? Which offers the best potential for growth?
How do you define “freedom?”
It seems to me that “freedom” has its root in the right to own personal property – which includes owning one’s own body… the avoidance of slavery. If you are free to own property, you must have the accompanying right to define its use. If you cannot use property as you wish, do you really own it?
If you choose to move into a neighborhood controlled by a homeowner’s association, you agree to use your property in a manner acceptable to the majority of association members. Cities implement zoning laws to make sure no one builds a porn theater next to your home, which not only devalues the property but may also represent a danger to your children. If a person doesn’t like the rules and regulations imposed by the association or the city or the county, they must move. It is a form of group sovereignty… it is democracy at work: Majority rules. What’s the old saying? “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner.”
It’s true that we’re all sovereign individuals… until we walk off of our own property and onto what is owned by the entire community – sidewalks, streets, parks, etc. Then, we become part of a sovereign group with a different set of rules. Because we don’t all think alike, to maintain order group rules are needed. Again, the majority rules.
When we go further from home – when we use a state highway, for example – we become part of a larger sovereign group. To maintain social order, we must broaden our definition of the word “sovereign,” and the meaning of “freedom” and “sovereign” change yet again. But the basics don’t change, do they? We have a Constitution that tells government its limits. In a Republic (which our forefathers gave us), government’s job is to ensure that when sovereign individuals accept the rules set down by the democratic process of majority rules, no rights as defined in our Bill of Rights or our Constitution are violated. Most people believe these documents define our rights rather than serving as the watchdog of lost individual sovereignty. It tells government that God, not government, is the grantor of our right to pursue life, liberty and happiness.
In late December, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It decimates the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.
A majority of Republicans voted for the NDAA (which validates my concern that Democrats want to get us to one world government via socialism, Republicans via fascism). The official Russian international radio broadcasting service. Voice of Russia, compared the Act to legislation passed by the Third Reich.
If you’re unfamiliar with this legislation, don’t be. The NDAA gives the President authority to detain, via our armed forces, any person "who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners," or anyone who commits a "belligerent act" against the U.S. or its coalition allies, under the law of war, "without trial, until the end of the hostilities authorized by the [AUMF]." The text also authorizes trial by military tribunal, or "transfer to the custody or control of the person's country of origin," or transfer to "any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity." An amendment to the Act that would have explicitly forbidden the indefinite detention without trial of American citizens was rejected by the Senate. (NOTE: AUMF means Authorization for Use of Military Force.)
It is interesting to note that “terrorism” has not by law been defined. NDAA, then, allows the President to define who a terrorist is and to have the military arrest him/her and “disappear” them to a foreign country. It wasn’t too long ago that law enforcement in more than one state defined a potential terrorist as someone who had bumper stickers that were pro-Constitution.
That’s why it’s important to define our words more carefully and know what words like “freedom” mean.
© 2012 Marilyn M. Barnewall - All Rights Reserved
Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall began her career in 1956 as a journalist with the Wyoming Eagle in Cheyenne. During her 20 years (plus) as a banker and bank consultant, she wrote extensively for The American Banker, Bank Marketing Magazine, Trust Marketing Magazine, was U.S. Consulting Editor for Private Banker International (London/Dublin), and other major banking industry publications. She has written seven non-fiction books about banking and taught private banking at Colorado University for the American Bankers Association. She has authored seven banking books, one dog book, and two works of fiction (about banking, of course). She has served on numerous Boards in her community. Barnewall is the former editor of The National Peace Officer Magazine and as a journalist has written guest editorials for the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News and Newsweek, among others. On the Internet, she has written for News With Views, World Net Daily, Canada Free Press, Christian Business Daily, Business Reform, and others. She has been quoted in Time, Forbes, Wall Street Journal and other national and international publications. She can be found in Who's Who in America, Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Finance and Business, and Who's Who in the World.
Barnewall is the former editor of The National Peace Officer Magazine and as a journalist has written guest editorials for the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News and Newsweek, among others. On the Internet, she has written for News With Views, World Net Daily, Canada Free Press, Christian Business Daily, Business Reform, and others. She has been quoted in Time, Forbes, Wall Street Journal and other national and international publications. She can be found in Who's Who in America, Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Finance and Business, and Who's Who in the World.
Web site: http://marilynwrites.blogspot.com