As I travel and speak, I’ve noticed that there’s one question that people continually ask me, no matter where I am. I finish my speech, take questions and inevitably someone asks:
“Is there still hope?”
Is there hope? Such a simple yet profound question.
The reality is, if I didn’t believe there was hope, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing with The Liberty Belle. If I didn’t believe there was hope, I wouldn’t have given the speech that is followed by the inevitable, “Is there hope?” question.
But I’m not here today to talk about what I believe. Rather, I want explore the delicate and intimate relationship that exists between hope and liberty. It’s critical that we, as Americans, understand and appreciate this unique relationship, and that we never lose hope, for to lose hope is to lose liberty.
Historically speaking, liberty and hope have always gone hand-in-hand. How many slaves would have continued laboring and living without the hope of one day being free? How many revolutions would have erupted without the hope of liberty driving the revolutionaries? How might the American founders have faired if they’d had no hope of success against the mighty British empire, or no hope in the face of the daunting task of creating an entirely new government from scratch? What of all the refugees who escaped their oppressive countries to find liberty and new life in America?
Now consider life in the Dark Ages. What must it have been like as a serf under the system of feudalism? What about life under the the various Roman emperors who would come and go, few lasting more than ten years, exerting their arbitrary wrath upon all of their subjects? What about the slaves who made up around ninety percent of the Spartan population? To where did any of these poor souls have to run? Where was the beacon of liberty… of hope for them? For many, there was no such hope and so they languished in slavery, in servitude and in bondage–some never even possessing that knowledge that there could be something more and thus they lacked the hope to pursue or fight for more. Why fight for a way of life you don’t even know exists?
One of the most effective tools of government oppression is the decimation of hope. A citizenry is much easier to manipulate and oppress when there is no hope to be found. Snuff out the hope for liberty in a people and liberty will no longer be an issue. Just read the accounts of individuals under the brutal arm of communism in Soviet Russia. Once the citizenry realized they had no hope of escape, no hope for liberty, and succumbed to the suffocating control as their only way of life, the government had little to control. Maintenance of the status quo and the swift eradication of any potential hope was all that remained.
Of course, the greatest threat to the Soviet government’s power was the country across the ocean that represented what…? Hope.
Hope that there could be a life of liberty someday. Hope that liberty does exist on the earth.
I don’t know what it was like to live during the Dark Ages. I don’t know what life was like under the power of the Roman Empire, or what it was like in different African countries during the Middle Ages nor what life was like in Russia, China or India during these days either. However, something tells me that it’s unlikely that the slaves, the oppressed, and the serfs, had their eyes set on any single country or place that represented hope–the hope of liberty. And so, this might be why the world languished in darkness, poverty, disease, slavery and war for most of history. Without hope, without the hope that things may get better, without the hope that liberty is attainable, why strive for more? Why strive for a way of of living that no one even knew existed?
Perhaps this is what makes the United States so unique.
Everything about the United States is built on hope. The hope of a new life. The hope of religious freedom. The hope of riches and wealth. The hope of liberty. People came here based on hope and then they built the country on that hope.
The War for Independence was motivated by and built on the hope that the country could be its own and liberty truly achieved. The creation of the government was based on the hope that this country could somehow, miraculously, avoid the sins of past oppressive empires and truly protect, promote and preserve liberty. The Civil War was stirred up and fought by those who had the hope that liberty could be shared by all. The innovation and invention that exploded in this country from the moment it was founded until now was fueled by the hope that each person could determine his or her own success in life, the hope that if one works and innovates, liberty allows for anyone to change their life for the better. The Civil Rights movement was based in hope, hope for equality and liberty. I could go on and on…
In the article I published Monday, I explained that liberty means responsibility. For liberty to be achieved, maintained and promoted, those who possess it must work to keep it and must use it wisely–but they must do so with the hope that such work will preserve and promote liberty. Why work, why be responsible with liberty? Because we hope for even better things to come. As long as there’s hope, liberty is alive… even if not possessed. Hope motivates us to be responsible and to fight for whatever it is we desire. But without hope, there is no will to live, no will to fight, no will to be responsible.
Consider two low level workers in a restaurant. One is told she will never be able to achieve a higher position in the restaurant or to make more money than she is now, the other is told that if she works hard and proves herself, she could eventually work her way up to being an operator of her own restaurant and be paid handsomely for it. One of these workers has hope and the other does not. Need I even ask how their work at this low level position will be differ from each other?
I say all of this because we’re standing at a very precarious and delicate precipice in the country, being told by the media, by government, and even by each other that there may be no hope. No hope for growing new businesses successfully, no hope of ever beating COVID, no hope for the economy, no hope for government to ever change, no hope for liberty to be saved, no hope for the next generation, no hope for the education system, no hope for the rest of the world if America succumbs to tyranny, or no hope for fair elections.
I’m here to say, don’t let the current peril we’re in today destroy your hope. Hope is the one thing that guarantees liberty’s continued existence. If those in power are able to successfully destroy all hope, then there’s no need to fight for liberty, there’s no need to vote, there’s no need to educate, there’s no need to work hard…it’s all a waste anyway. Hope and liberty truly are delicately intertwined.
There’s still hope. The fact that I can write and publish this article means there’s hope. The fact that this country still has a Constitution to protect us from government means there’s hope. The fact that you can still go about your day according to how you want to go about your day means there’s still hope. The fact that young and old alike are stirred with passion to fight for liberty means there’s still hope. That fact that any of us wake up with breath in our lungs mean there’s still hope.
The fact that America still exists in the world today means there’s still hope.
“To live without hope is to cease to live.”Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Fellow Americans, do not cease to hope, because, in doing so, you have ceased to live.
The Liberty Belle