Voice of Freedom – Martin Luther

19 Mar


Voices of Freedom

Martin Luther – the Champion of Conscience and Personal Freedom

I’ve been accused of being a guy who marches to his own drum. My wife has often been stumped by the question, “And what does your husband do?”  Knowing full well they are inquiring about my line of work, she has either responded with, “That’s a good question!” or tossed it to others who know me as, “How would you answer that question?”

This happened recently at a gathering she attended without me.  A friend of ours quickly offered, “Oh Gary?   He’s an entrepreneur!”  Frankly, I like that answer because it doesn’t tie me down to any particular activity or job which defines me!

Which brings me to my choice for this month’s Voice of Freedom, Martin Luther.

Notice I didn’t give him a title or job description or even an accompanying adjective.

To me, Luther is a Voice of Freedom more because of who he was (or is in the annals of history) than because of what he did.  Regardless of where you stand with Luther’s legacy I hope you will hear me out.

For the record, I’m not Lutheran nor do I claim expertise in Luther’s theology.  What I do know from my rather cursory study of medieval history is that he stands tall in a major paradigm shift in the idea of individual conscience and the relationship of conscience to personal freedom.

What intrigues me about the whole story of Luther’s break with the Roman Catholic Church is that he never intended for it to happen.  He did not set out to change the world or even reform the Church.  He was a man who was listening to the voice of his conscience which ultimately set him on a crash course with the “estahlishment.”

Born to merchant class parents in a changing Germany-shortly after the invention of the printing press at a time when hard-working peasants began to rise from the hopeless state of their forebearers-young Martin showed great promise as a university student (receiving a Bachelor’s degree in one year and a Master’s Degree three years later!)  He then entered Law school at his Father’s request until he came face to face with his true destiny.

After a close call with death in a severe thunderstorm (which revealed his deep fear of God’s judgment), he vowed to enter the monastery and devote his life to the service of God and the Church.  Choosing theology as a pursuit and donning a monk’s habit put him at odds with his family and did nothing to quiet his restless heart.  He was plagued with guilt which drove him to asceticism and near insanity. He literally wrestled with the devil to find inner peace.

In other words, even the rigorous routine of piety and religious exercises did not help.  He found no rest until he opened the New Testament on the advice of his mentor, Johann Staupitz.  There in the letter of Paul to the Romans in Chapter 1:17-18, Luther found the truth of the gospel and realized that salvation was a free gift available to all by faith– from beginning to end.  He experienced the gift of forgiveness by the grace of God through the sacrifice of Christ.

Moving on with renewed energy, he eventually found himself at odds with some questionable practices of the Church.  Times were difficult in Rome.  Many of those in positions of authority were engaged in immoral and corrupt practices.  The Basilica of St. Peter was unfinished and the Church was bankrupt.  Hence the Vatican sanctioned sale of indulgences by one Johann Tetzel to raise money.

Enter Martin Luther-reformer.   As he began to speak out against this approach to gaining favor with God, it became the driving force of his life to pose the question –

“How can one receive the grace of God?”

So rather than wringing his hands or hiding behind his priestly office, he wrote a series of “grievances” which became known as the 95 theses and nailed them to the door of Wittenberg Church where he had served as pastor.

Not to be trite, but the “rest is history.”  To take on the entire Roman Church was not his goal – but it happened as a result of his allegiance to a conscience formed by the truth.

To Martin Luther, the truth was a life and death matter and he sincerely believed that the Church had lost its way.   Soon his influence extended outside the local  congregation.   For Luther, a sincere seeker of God, selling an indulgence with the assurance of a shortened time in purgatory was paramount to a crime.  Eventually, the Princes of Saxony took notice and garnered the support of the people to establish the Lutheran Church.

Even after Luther was condemned as a heretic by Pope Leo X and the edict for his ex-communication was signed, I don’t believe he saw himself as a rebel or revolutionary. It wasn’t until he was put on trial at the Diet of Worms, refusing to recant his claims about the Church while expressing his allegiance to a conscience held captive by the Word of God — that his destiny became clear to him.

As he stood for what he believed, he became a champion of the freedom of the individual to encounter God.  This set him on course to translate the Greek New Testament into German; consequently, ordinary people had the opportunity to seek and find the inner freedom that Luther himself had found in Christ.

As the reformation spread through Europe to England, Scotland and Switzerland, great strides were made toward self-government as philosophers and theologians wrote on the significance of personal conscience in the service of political freedom.   As the resurgence of ancient Greek thought accompanied a renewed interest in the arts and learning, the Renaissance took hold to guide the European continent into the modern age.

Many have alluded to the trend for a major paradigm shift in the history of Christendom every 500 years.  As the 500th anniversary of the Reformation fast approaches in 2017, I see cooperation between Catholics and Protestants growing as both camps see the need to stand in solidarity to protect the things our great country was founded upon.

We are more aware of the dangers which exist as a threat to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness than any generation in history.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” – wrote the apostle Paul.

“You will know the truth-and the truth will set you free” – said Jesus Christ.

“How do I receive the grace of God?” asked Luther.

If we keep these truths at the forefront of our minds and confront the world with the source of what drives us in the pursuit of freedom, I believe there is real hope for the future of our country and the world around us.

When I was in the fourth grade I decided I wanted some new clothes.  Since the year was 1968, (I was 10 years old) I had my eye on a pair of flowered bell bottomed pants in the JC Penney catalogue.  Somehow I convinced my mother to let me ride the bus alone from McKenzie into Bismarck (17 miles – imagine that) and I came home with the first of many “signature” fashion statements.  Like I said at the beginning – I am a free spirit and it is in the Spirit of freedom I continue today.

Thanks to those who have dared to listen to the Voices of Freedom which have paved the way for us!


19 Mar

Voice of Freedom – St. Patrick

Voices of Freedom:  St. Patrick


Last evening, I discovered a new holiday to celebrate.  I was at my favorite local establishment with some family members and friends to celebrate a landmark birthday when I spied a gigantic mug of green beer on a tray.  While I’m sometimes a bit confused about dates and time (a fact my wife knows well), I was sure that St. Patrick’s Day did not arrive until the following day.  No sooner did that thought cross my mind and I overheard someone telling a companion why he was drinking green Bud light beer-the day before St. Patrick’s Day is now known as St. Practice Day.  

My immediate reaction was an undetectable eye-roll and a silent “whatever” as I shook my head and made my way back to the table.   In a more reflective moment later in the evening, I found myself wondering how many people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with very little idea as to the significance of this man’s life.  Until the resident historian in our home filled me in a few years ago, I have to admit that I knew virtually nothing except that he was an Irish saint.  As you can guess, someone close to me set me straight on that misinformation right away!

With all that as mere backdrop for this entry in the “Voices of Freedom” travelogue, I would like to give you a glimpse into an extraordinary life-the life of a man who literally became the messenger of true freedom to the Irish people.

By way of introduction, suffice it to say that there is very little firsthand information available about the life of St. Patrick.  His original writings consist of two documents, the Declaration and Confessions and neither one is a detailed historical account.  What looms large in these works is his passion for the people of Ireland and his perseverance in the propagation of the message.  What makes his story intriguing is the way it began and the turn of events which led to the answer to the call of God on his life.

Born in Roman Briton to a distinguished family, his given name was Patricius.  He lived a disciplined and orderly life under the authority of Rome in the area of Cumbria on what is now the British Isles.  At the age of 16, his world was upended by Irish rogue pirates who captured the young man and hauled him off to Ireland.  

For the next six years, he served as a slave and spent his days and nights often without adequate food and clothing.  Here in a foreign land with little hope for rescue or escape, he began calling out to the God of his upbringing-the God of Christianity.   He became fluent in the Celtic tongue which would serve him well in his later work.

It was here that his heart was converted and true faith formation began.  Like David from ancient Hebrew times, he learned to pray without ceasing because his desperate need was before him at all times.   Tradition says that he heard an angel’s voice urging him to escape and return to his homeland.  

He was able to do so, but no sooner did he arrive home he shared his vision and call to return to Ireland to share the Good News of Redemption and freedom.  After serving as an apprentice to a missionary and the necessary education to become a priest, he began the journey back to Ireland.  Eventually after the death of Bishop Palladius was assigned to Ireland, he received ordination from Pope Celestine and was sent back to Ireland as her Apostle.

Upon his return, he immediately paid the ransom price of a slave for his freedom to his former master and shared with him the gospel message. For the Irish people, this was a message that reached in to the very core of their culture and Patrick knew he must first reach the kings and local leaders and the people would follow.  Theirs was a very spiritual culture but devoid of any significant Christian influence.

Locked in a centuries old maze of folklore and superstition, the only guidance came from the druids who were local equivalents of a priest.  They held sway over the villages using fear tactics and force.

Consequently, outsiders (and even the former bishop) had little success to penetrate this island with either the progress of Western Civilization or the hope of Christianity.

This translated into a society cut off from the influences of Western Civilization such a short distance away in Briton where education and rational thought had given way to progress and a degree of economic prosperity.

When local leaders met Patrick with his message of faith in a reasonable and rational God who could be known and trusted , a settled confidence in the promise of eternal life transformed the lives of individuals.  As the Irish people began to turn from superstition and a reliance on the whims of capricious deities, they were free to do what was necessary to move in the direction which would transport them to exercise choice, creativity and conscience. 

Later in the development of monasteries and cells across Ireland and surrounding islands, important work was accomplished in places like Iona where Scriptures were copied and preserved through the ages.  These havens created space for learning and commerce which had far reaching effects throughout the medieval times and into the middle ages.

Patrick and his converts were known for their strength in doing battle with the strongholds of paganism in this country now known for a long history of faith-based struggle and conflict.  One of the most famous of Patrick’s original writings is a verse from the lengthy prayer  known as the Lorica

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

 Christ be with me,

Christ within me,

Christ behind me,

Christ before me,

Christ beside me,

Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet,

Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.


If this is what St. Patrick’s day commemorates-the life of man who did battle with primarily the shield of faith as his defense and the power of prayer as a weapon, perhaps St. Patrick’s day should have a little different focus.

At the very least one should consider drinking Irish beer.

Voices of Freedom – Senator Rick Santorum

19 Mar

“Why not nominate a candidate for President of the United States whom you can trust?”
Senator Rick Santorum

“A Time for Choosing” was the title of the Keynote address at the National Republican Party Convention in 1964. The nominee for President was Barry Goldwater. The man who delivered the speech was Ronald Reagan. By way of introduction, he began with these words:”I am permitted to choose my own words and discuss my own ideas regarding the choice we face in the next few weeks.”
They must have trusted him. What followed was a speech that could be delivered (with minor revisions) and speak with relevance and application to the situation at hand at any time. Timeless. Timeless because it is true. True because it is. It is easy to trust someone who tells the truth.

Once again in America we are faced with a choice-it is a time for choosing. Just as Ronald Reagan spoke to a nation with many challenges and much at stake, so there are candidates touting solutions to the situation in this country today.
When Reagan finished his speech, one political analyst is quoted as saying, “I think we just nominated the wrong candidate for President.” He was right. History shows what happens when the wrong choice is made – in 1964 the issues were national security and the economy. Not much has changed but the number of zeroes behind the figures recording national debt and the magnitude of the threat to our safety as a people. We cannot afford to make the wrong choice this time.

Last week I had the opportunity to spend the day with Senator Rick Santorum, Republican candidate for President. As he spoke to various gatherings of people across the state of North Dakota, I learned something that solidified what I had suspected-this man speaks the truth. Rick Santorum is a man who can be trusted because he tells the truth. His positions on the issues haven’t changed over time. In his distinguished career as a Representative to Congress in the ’90s to the Senate for two terms, his record is consistent. His personal life shows it as well. This is a man who is passionately committed to what he considers the ‘Hows and Whys of America.’

He carries a copy of the US Constitution wherever he goes. It is a document unique in that it trusts the people to govern themselves.

He is a champion of the Declaration of Independence and its self – evident truths of equality for all and the divinely ordained right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He believes in America.

1. His is a voice of Conviction. As a young Republican, I had a mentor who modeled the adage, “All men hold opinions but few men are held by their convictions.” To be held by beliefs and the idea that truth is absolute and unchanging is an old-fashioned or naïve way to navigate life in a culture committed to subjectivism and moral relativism. Senator Santorum has repeatedly and consistently defended the sanctity of human life, traditional family values, and the rights of the individual to choose what they deem best for themselves and their families. He believes in the Judeo – Christian ethic and the principles upon which Western Civilization and ultimately the United States of America were built upon. At the very cornerstone of this foundation is the family.

2. His is a voice of Compassion. Rick Santorum grew up in a family of working class Italian immigrants who believed in the American Dream and welcomed the opportunities afforded them here. As a boy in a small Pennsylvania community he learned about hard work and family dynamics from experience. He saw his parents reach out to their neighbors and participate in the community as they sought to help the poor. His parents were “old-school” and expected much from their kids and he carried all of these values to his first campaign for Congress in a democrat district in a Pittsburgh suburb. He and his staff were confronted with poverty on a daily basis along with relentless pressure from liberal Congressional delegations to give into traditional “help” for the low-income family. Instead of this approach, he was determined to develop a strategy to enable individuals to work their way out of welfare and on to self-sufficiency. He was part of a successful effort by some innovative conservatives to work with the administration in the ’90s to do just that and the statistics are proof positive (as well as countless testimonials from families) that it worked. In all his efforts, strengthening the traditional family unit was a primary focus and is today.

3. His is a voice of Courage. To be a leader today in the fight for the family is not for the weak and uninitiated. This fight encompasses many aspects of life including parental choice in education, defunding programs that undermine the family like Planned Parenthood, defending marriage as an institution between a man and a woman, creative use of federal dollars to give families a way out of poverty and even working for a strong national defense to protect families in the United States in an unstable world. Strong positions like the ones taken by Senator Santorum are not always the most popular, but he has the courage and resolve to stand anyway.

4. His is a voice of true Conservatism. In all of his speeches and in his writings and even campaign materials, he is very specific about his belief in a “bottoms-up” or “grass-roots” approach to self-government. He believes the people closest to the situation-local city councils, county commissions and state legislatures should have the lions-share of say in issues directly affecting the family. The federal government should do only what is outlined by the Constitution and that goes for the Courts as well. We the people should be informed and involved in the process in our districts.

5. His is a voice of Common Sense. This has convinced many individuals and families to come back to the fundamental principles of the Founding Fathers. In realizing the radical move to the left by the democrat party, folks have converted to a conservative approach to the political process and have even changed parties.

Maybe it’s just me, but I believe it is because he tells it like it is-he tells the truth and he can be trusted to act on what he claims to believe.

He is the right Choice for North Dakota and for America!

Voices of Freedom – Benedict XVI

8 Oct

416–it’s the number on the mile-marker salvaged from the abandoned railroad bed behind the property adjacent to mine.  Not long ago, I was informed by my wife, Deone, that 4-16 is the birth date of this month’s Voice of Freedom – Pope Benedict XVI.  Just over three weeks ago, the marker went up in the yard at the west entrance to our home.  Why am I sharing this?

Although we are not Catholic, Deone is a devotee of this elderly man; she thinks Benedict XVI who is in his sixth year as Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church–is the most brilliant man on the planet!  (She has read ALOT of his work).  Consequently, I feel like I HAVE READ ALOT OF HIS WORK!

But last week she gave me an article written by George Weigel about the trip the Pope made to England last September (did YOU know that was the first official visit of a Pope to England since the Protestant Reformation almost 500 years ago – I didn’t- but now you do too!)

The article is entitled, “The Future of Western Democratic Society” and frankly, it stopped me in my tracks.  All I could think was, “This Benedict guy has something to say”.  As I thought about the issues he addressed- his concern about the secularization of Europe and the outcomes which historical evidence could predict- I realized that he was putting words to how I was feeling about the dynamics of Western Civilization and their relationship to what is going on in our country.

And the timing is perfect.  I am in the process of announcing the formation of a non-profit organization called Freedom Roots.  The mission of this initiative is simple – to cultivate the grass roots for the cause of liberty.  Benedict’s discussion of the “three dimensions which constitute Western democracy” resonates with this mission and provides fodder for an image to help me communicate my objectives.

If I picture these three dimensions as roots supporting a large tree with a taproot going even deeper for connection with the truth, I can attempt to define the challenges facing free society and move toward practical actions and strategies to protect it.  Ultimately that is what Freedom Roots is all about – my attempt to move toward a greater degree of involvement in the political process in order to be a part of the restoration of America to her roots.

I “met” George Weigel last winter – once again via my wife.  As I transferred her, my son Austin, a couple of backpacks and a few cases of burritos into the van of a good friend at 6:30 in the morning (it was February and the wind chill was -45 degrees), I remember thinking, “I hope this Weigel is worth it.”  They were headed 700 miles west to Wyoming Catholic college to visit our friend’s daughter who is a student there, to meet George Weigel and hear him speak.

George Weigel is probably best known as an author and Catholic theologian; his latest work is the second volume in the biography of the late predecessor to Pope Benedict, Blessed John Paul II.  He has written extensively on the subject of religion in the public square and is a senior fellow at the National Ethics and Policy Council in Washington DC.   With all the research on the impact of John Paul II on the demise of Communism at the end of the last century, he brings a trained eye and important perspective to the analysis of Benedict’s work as well.

The article was actually a follow-up to one written last September shortly before Benedict traveled to England.  One of his objectives was to meet with Prime Minister David Cameron and present his views on the problems Europe is facing in regards to its future.  What Weigel presents about Benedict and his message to Europe applies to us across the Atlantic in America; we have a President intent on patterning our future on what Europe does—and we can see where that leads!

It became clear as I read that this Pope (formerly Josef Ratzinger) is a European world – class intellect with a decidedly conservative bent!  Here was someone who had actually grown up in Nazi Germany, served (albeit reluctantly) for a short time in the German army and eventually made his way into the clerical life.   Perhaps it is a combination of all of these things -along with the ability to articulate his thoughts clearly – that make him a voice to listen to if not a force to be reckoned with.

The three dimensions or “roots” of freedom in Benedict’s mind can be summarized in what seems like me as a “tale of three cities.”   Weigel labels these dimensions  Jerusalem, Rome and Athens and lays them out as the three basic building blocks of Western Civilization:  Judeo-Christian religion, Greek thought and reason and Roman jurisprudence (the Rule of Law).  Simply stated it is like the three “R’s” – Religion, Rationality, and Rule of Law.

He also refers to these three entities as “legs which support” which conjures up the image of the three-legged stool.  Of course the implication from this analogy is that if any one of the three becomes weak or “wobbly”, the support or foundation is threatened and the whole system is endangered.

Citing examples from post WWI Germany, Pope Benedict makes a compelling argument for why sheer reason without the moral underpinnings of Christianity or Judaism created a vacuum in the Weimar Republic which resulted in a dictatorship (this alone made me want to shut down the office for a day and read the entire historical background on Hitler’s rise to power).  He gives a chilling account of how Max Weber’s theory as presented in “The Spirit of Capitalism” did not have the necessary components to stand against National Socialism and the Nazi’s lust for power.

From there he shifts to argue that religion breaks down when reason is ignored.  As he  points to early Christianity, he takes a quick tour of Church history and presents the eventual rise of monasticism and the age of the Scholastics as precursors to the Renaissance.  As a rebirth of Greek influence on the ancient world was awakening the hearts of those in the academic world, a new day was dawning for the West.

And it was about freedom.  The Protestant Reformation rocked the European continent as the whole idea of freedom from oppression was brought to bear in the wake of the works of Luther and Calvin. The printed word enabled the message to travel quickly.  As the Catholic Church responded in the Counter – Reformation, a clearer representation of the role of the Church in the world and its relationship to the State emerged. Regardless of one’s perspective, the world was changing as individuals began to stand against tyranny of any kind and the foundations were strengthened for the rebirth of democracy in the West – eventually of course in America itself.

Certainly this is but a cursory overview of the thought and message of this great man who is speaking out with a voice of freedom which distinctly states, “freedom is inextricably linked with truth.”  When Pope Benedict visited the United States in 2008 he had much to say to the people of this country.  He spoke not only of the incredible privileges we enjoy as Americans, but he called each of us to defend our liberty in order to preserve it for the benefit of the rest of the world.  In essence, he exhorted the citizens of the Western world not to “hide our light under a bushel basket”- but to let it shine!

Like I said at the beginning, I stood up and took notice.  To me, it helps to have the philosophy and thought behind the actions I take.  His thoughts certainly brought more depth and meaning to the things I want to do, but my action plan is still essentially the same.  As I develop Freedom Roots, I hope to incorporate the ideas which represent the American experiment in self-government and liberty via these root systems.

It is why I read and why I listen (though sometimes reluctantly) to my wife as she feels compelled to share everything SHE’S reading with me.  Every once in awhile I hear a voice worth listening to – Pope Benedict the XVI is certainly one of those Voices of Freedom.

Gary Emineth

President and Founder of Freedom Roots

Voices of Freedom – Senator Jim DeMint

9 Jul

Voices of Freedom:  Senator Jim DeMint


We must NOT let our rulers load us with perpetual debt…I place economy among the first and most important of Republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared… 

Thomas Jefferson

 When 2010 rolled around, Jim DeMint was tired.  He was tired of Washington politics-he’d been in Congress for over 10 years.  He was tired of fighting uphill battles-battles which seemed fruitless at times and at other times as if he had no reinforcements. 

There was literally no one to back him up.  He nearly decided not to run for reelection to his second term in the US Senate.  Being in the minority for most of his career as a member of Congress was hard enough, but being abandoned on key issues-particularly fiscal issues-by members of his own party was another ballgame altogether.

But when it came right down to the wire and it was time to make a decision it was two others who cast the dissenting votes and changed his mind; quite unexpectedly it was his reluctant  wife and God who stepped in and convinced him that it was his duty to run for office for the sake of freedom.  As a committed Christian and a wise husband, he knew he had to listen!

After a year with Obama, Reid and Pelosi leading the country deeper into debt and topping it off with a slam dunk on Obamacare, Jim DeMint began in earnest to raise the funds for what he thought would be a big challenge in November 2010; as it turned out, he was able to divert most of the money to other races. 

It was at this point he started the Senate conservative fund and began promoting Tea Party candidates in key races around the country.  In his new book, “The Great Awakening of America” he describes the personal price he has paid for standing up for what is not only right but what used to be considered Republican values and principles.

That is definitely changing…

“We don’t necessarily need to change what we say-we talk about being conservative in terms of limiting government, promoting growth for the economy, and following the Constitutional guidelines set by the Founders.  We just need to get a lot better at doing what we say.” 

In 2006 Republicans lost vital seats in Congress and the White House to one of the most liberal administrations in history. 

Although the tide was turned in 2010 by regaining the majority in the House and making gains in the Senate, there is much damage to be undone.

And it is up to us to get on it-like Jefferson was quoted at the beginning of this article-  

We must not allow our leaders to load us with perpetual debt…” 

It takes vigilance to maintain freedom as it was handed to us by the Founding Fathers after the Constitutional Convention.

And vigilance requires a vigilante-a Lone Ranger- until others begin to be emboldened to follow.  He lost friends from the ranks of the Senate and has lived with criticism and isolation.  But he knows the cause is worth it. 

Just recently, he has become more hopeful; as the leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell came out in support of DeMint’s efforts to ban earmarks on legislation.  The next hurdle is to pass avoid an increase in the debt ceiling and to pass a balanced budget amendment. 

Jim DeMint believes that economic freedom is a pre-requisite for political and personal freedom.  To quote F.A. Hayek, “Without freedom in the marketplace, we are on the road to serfdom.”

The Club for Growth is backing candidates for 2012 as this is written.  The voting records of prospective candidates have been scrutinized and those candidates ranked from most to least conservative.  The parameters are simple and typically fall into categories outlined and explained in such documents as the Republican platform-which if examined qualifies as supportive of Constitutional limits on government.

The key again lies with the electorate and the voice of Jim DeMint is calling out to the Tea Party groups (like the North Dakota Tea Party Caucus) for involvement and a pro-active commitment to a successful election.

I recently came across a quote by a 1916 minister and outspoken advocate for liberty, his name is William J.H. Boetcker.  He published a pamphlet entitled


 “The Ten Cannots”

  • You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
  • You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
  • You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
  • You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
  • You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence.
  • You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
  • You cannot lift the wage earn by pulling down the wage payer.
  • You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
  • You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
  • You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they will not do for themselves.

To state it another way…The government cannot give to anybody what it does not first take from somebody else!

There you have… I believe Senator DeMint would say…  Amen

Gary Emineth

Voices of Freedom – “Liberty Enlightening the World”

2 Jul

No one in their right mind would give up the sensual, aesthetic, and gastronomic pleasures offered by French Savoir-vivre for the unrelenting battlefield of American ambition were it not for one thing– POSSIBILITY

 from an op-ed in the New York Times


This entry in my journal, if you have been following this series since I started, is a departure from the typical voices of freedom message.  Perhaps you won’t sense the difference as much in the content of this message as in the style and source.

The voice you will meet and hear through my pen belongs to an immigrant, an icon and a messenger bearing gifts.  You may find her voice to be unlike any which comes to mind as you ponder these clues.

Before she actually speaks, I will preface her words with a brief explanation as to why I chose her in this communicae and how and why the idea of possibility became the theme.  

Essentially, I chose her because Independence day is fast approaching. July 4 is the day we celebrate our independence from Great Britain–the day our status as a country went from mere colony to the idea which lives today in the United States of America.  

She was truly an immigrant and she carried with her the heart-felt congratulations from the French.  Sculpted in copper by artist Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, the statue which would one day stand 151 ft. above the New York harbor, was intended as a gift to commemorate the 100th anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence in 1876. 

In reality, she did not make it to her final destination for another 10 years due to logistical and financial issues with the transport.  

Originally entitled “Liberty Enlightening the World,” this iconic likeness of a woman  soon became the light shining for the whole world from the eastern gateway of the “city on the hill”–that  phrase immortalized from the Holy Scriptures in reference to the new world of America from the deck of the Mayflower in 1620.

Most of us are at least vaguely familiar with the words from a sonnet written by Emma Lazarus which are inscribed on the metal plate affixed to the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty stands.  “The New Colossus” was the winning entry in one of the many art and literary contests held as fund-raising efforts to facilitate the completion of the foundation where she would stand on what is now known as Liberty Island.

As providence would have its say, it would be poetry and not mere prose which would deemed the fitting inscription for this messenger of hope.  

Poetry–the medium which became the metaphor for POSSIBILITY through the genius of Emily Dickinson–another American poet of the same period.  In the following lines, she presents a powerful image which limits the inextricable connection between possibility and human freedom and so aptly represents the American ideal.

She wrote:

I dwell in possibility

A fairer house than prose

More numerous for windows

Superior for Doors


For Chambers as the Cedars

Impregnable to eye

And for an everlasting roof

The gambrel of the sky


And fairest is the visitor

Whose occupation this

The spreading wide my narrow hands

To gather paradise

 From Dickinson we hear things about poetry which, whether we’ve actually experienced them or not, seem to ring true.  Poetry takes one somewhere and leaves the hearer to discover just where that is or what it means.  At times it can confuse or frustrate and we demand to know what was in the mind of the poet.  I have felt it and yet for all the best efforts of my seventh grade English literature teacher and even the contribution of a Sparknotes download to help me with a Shakespearean sonnet, does anyone know what he really meant?

 The images of windows and the sky as a roof certainly gives a sense of the expansive nature of poetry.  What an invitation to wonder, reflect, ponder and dream–to spread open the horizons of our minds to imagine, create and experience this freedom!

POSSIBILITY is not something which makes one feel comfortable or secure, but it definitely offers choice.  

 However, choice carries an incumbent requirement–to respond by following a path, to the exclusion of others, which leads to an uncertain destination.  Uncertainty brings anxiety and often leaves the human soul wishing the choice wasn’t necessary; yet few would willingly give it to another.  

 As you read the words of Emma Lazarus which follow, hear her set the stage for the invitation by Lady Liberty to the land of possibility:

 Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame

With conquering limbs astride from land to land

Here at our sea washed sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch; whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name 

Mother of exiles; for from her beacon-hand 

Glows world-wide welcome and mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbors which twin cities frame


This is not the triumphal procession of the conqueror leading the conquered.   Here is the gateway to the power and energy of freedom by one who call the exiled to their new home.  She commands with a kind and gently eye and offers them something far different than the lands of their origin.

 “Keep ancient lands your storied pomp,” cries she

With silent lips, “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore

Send these, your homeless tempest-tossed to me

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

 What drew them here was the promise of freedom–the lure of potential to make a life for themselves and their children–a life free from restrictions which bound them even before birth.  But because possibility is only potential for success and not a guarantee or entitlement to a certain standard of living, it is risky business and the responsibility rests on the individual and not government or society.  And they understood that and were still willing to give it a chance.

 America still calls out with this invitation of possibility today and there are those who clamor to cross her borders and enter for a better life.  Yet immigration has become a hot button for politicians and leaders because somewhere along the way the rules which accompanied those at Ellis Island no longer seem to apply.   Instead of inspection and rigorous questioning as to health and eligibility to work and make a living, we hold out the promise of citizenship for children born on American soil regardless of the status of their parents.  

 There are no language restrictions–instead the public schools must accommodate even the children of illegal immigrants.  Certainly it was difficult for my Norwegian grandmother to attend school in an English speaking country, but she learned quickly as did scores of others.  Do we not do a disservice to those who came before and obeyed the laws and bore the consequences of ineligibility when we advocate to open the borders without restrictions?  I believe that we do.  We owe it to those who desire to become citizens of this country the dignity of doing it by the book.  Most of the legal immigrants I know feel the same way.

 There were not welcome wagon hostesses, no free gifts from local business owners–no one with food stamps or housing assistance vouchers waiting for those disembarking from the Ellis Island ferry boats.  All that lay before those working class people was the possibility of employment and prosperity in exchange for hard work and thrift.

 As we celebrate Independence Day this weekend, let’s stop and give thanks to those many immigrants who courageously traded familiarity and a degree of certainty for the unfamiliar and uncertain and became those who “dwell in possibility”And passed the same POSSIBILITY to the next generation–