Freedom is never free.
This Veterans Day, I decided to watch Hacksaw Ridge. This movie is about a Seventh Day Adventist who believes that it is not right to kill. His commanding officers at boot camp pulled every trick in the book to try to get him to quit. Even though Doss was faced with spending the rest of the war at Fort Leavenworth, he refused to pick up a gun.
As a freedom loving patriot who understands that the United States Constitution grants to every citizen the freedom of religion, this movie really challenged me. Doss’ beliefs differ from my own. This movie did a great job showing how men who were willing to risk their lives because their commanding officer told them to fight felt threatened by a small man’s unorthodox beliefs.
I would love to say that if I was Doss’ commanding officer that there is no way I would have made Doss’ life difficult because of his strange beliefs. I would love to say that I wouldn’t but I am pretty sure that I too would have failed. You see, I understand that in the military, it is necessary for a unit to act as one. When someone is different, it creates an environment where there is a lack of trust, and that can have major consequences. In understanding the importance of having a cohesive unit, I probably would have done everything I could to try to get Doss to quit on his own.
During the movie Hacksaw Ridge, we watch as the American army is driven off the ridge. Doss pauses at the top of the ridge before retreating down the cliff and he asks God what he is to do. Doss hears a man cry for help and he is inspired to help wounded men down the cliff. The movie shows Doss risking his life aiding the American troops and even a few enemy troops. All through the night he tirelessly works, asking God to give him the strength to help one more man.
The kind of courage that Doss demonstrated is not natural. Doss was able to do what he did because he believed that God wanted him to help save lives. He was willing to risk his own life so that others might live.
In the same way that Doss was willing to risk his own life so that his fellow soldiers might live, so also, many soldiers during World War 2 were risking their lives so that we might enjoy the privileges of being an American citizen. As Americans, it is so easy to take for granted that we live in a land of the free and home of the brave.
We live in a country where you have Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion. You may not like the speech or the religion of others, and you have the right to speak out against them. However, you do not have the right to hazard their life, their liberty, or their property because you do not like their speech or their religion.
This week, we watched as protestors took to the street to express their anger about the election results. While I agree that they have the right to express their disagreement, I do have a problem when their protests violate other’s right to life, liberty, and property. The First Amendment does grant Freedom of Speech and Freedom to Peaceable Assembly. It does not grant the Freedom to take the law into your own hands. These protestors are no different than Doss’ officers when they attacked him for his sincerely held religious beliefs.
Doss’ officers tried to deprive Doss of the right to exercise his religion. This week, protestors are destroying other’s property because they disagree with the election results. I am sorry if you are upset that Donald Trump won, I personally sacrificed a lot of time, talent, and treasure to help elect a Republican who believed in the principles of liberty. I did not succeed but I also did not go and take my frustration out on others.
No one is perfect, least of all me. Our Constitutional Republic gives us the right to vote for our representatives. If you disagree with your representative, instead of starting a riot and depriving others of their life, liberty, and property, follow the example of Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson did not agree with how George Washington was running the country.
Thomas Jefferson paid an editor to start a newspaper so that his views of how the government should work could be heard by the masses. Jefferson exercised the Freedom of Press to make sure his dissenting views were heard. While he did not move the nation away from the Federalist principles overnight, Jefferson did work within the system and within a few years, he was the nation’s president and the nation had given him majorities in both the house and the senate.
Thomas Jefferson did not start riots because George Washington was creating a National government that Jefferson felt was violating the principles of State Rights. Instead, Jefferson used the press to educate the people on how government should work and within time, upon being properly educated, the people chose leaders who were willing to keep government small and restrict the powers of the Federal Government.
America does not need protestors who break the law and violate the rights of those around them. America does not need men like Doss’ officers who violate the Freedom of Religion of those whom they disagree with. America needs men like Doss who was willing to sacrifice his life to save the lives of those around him. American needs men like Thomas Jefferson who was willing to use his own resources to educate the nation on what it means to be a liberty loving patriot.