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America the Beautiful: Surprising Verse 2

The second verse of America the beautiful:

O beautiful for pilgrim feet 
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat 
Across the wilderness! 
America! America! 
God mend thine every flaw, 
Confirm thy soul in self-control, 
Thy liberty in law! 


Two things strike me about this verse.

1)  As the pioneers made their way west across this raw and virgin country; they endured unthinkable hardship.  Yet they continued on and paved the way for themselves and all future generations. They found extraordinary scenic beauty, and lived off the resources that they discovered along the way. They trekked in pain with intent and purpose literally across the wilderness.  

2)  The true nature of freedom is self control. This sounds counter intuitive right? Unfortunately this notion is foreign to our society's view of freedom. Freedom is looked upon as a version of licentiousness; meaning taking license to do whatever to whoever whenever and how ever you want. But licentiousness is not freedom.  This erroneous view of freedom is not what the founding fathers had in mind.

True freedom denotes a sense of responsibility and duty to a higher calling. True freedom involves a necessary tethering to something or someone bigger that oneself. 

Picture 1:  A guy wants to ride fast and free so he gets onto a wild unfettered horse  that's flailing all around and bucking and jerking and the guy eventually gets thrown off and gets nowhere. 

Picture 2:  A guy wants to ride fast and free so he mounts a horse and places his feet into its fetters and keeps control and is able to stay on and ride fast because the discipline of keeping his feet in the fetters is the very thing that enables him to freely ride.


Picture 2 requires discipline and control in order to move quickly, safely and enjoyably. Of course freedom requires some modicum of self control.  The lack of it would be nothing short of societal bedlam.

"A man (or woman) without self -control is like a city broken into and left without walls" -Proverbs 25:28

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