By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal Oxford Bureau
“O, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
With Independence Day only a few days off, it seemed a good thing to be singing as I joined the Coffee Clutchers, but these guys jump on rhetorical questions.
“Yes, the banner still waves,” Clyde said. “And some of our military members, first responders and even civilian brethren prove America is still the home of some brave. Question is, is this still the land of the free?”
I’d obviously opened a can of worms.
“Judging by current conditions, maybe freedom means indulging every appetite but leaving society to pick up the costs,” Chester said.
“Maybe it means a right to entertainment that despises traditional values, accompanied by a right for the thought police to protect us from any reference to religion in public discourse,” Brother Earl (no relation) added.
The can of worms was becoming a hornet’s nest. I poured myself a cup of dark roast and slinked down in my corner.
“Freedom means we willingly let the government grope great-grandmothers, with nary an apology to the Fourth Amendment,” Maggie said.
“We’re like the frog in the kettle,” Maurice said. “Will we even notice what freedom we give up next?”
Walter mused, “Since government schools fail so miserably in their basic premise of universal literacy, maybe freedom means handing government more and more responsibilities for our lives until it finds something it’s good at.”
Bud asked, “You mean like bailing out the big guys who created failed schemes – often in partnership with the government – but letting the little guys lose their shirts?”
Cindy had dropped in on her old workplace for a cup with the troglodytes.
“How did a sentient people accept Ponzi Security, whose private-sector equivalent would have condemned its overseers to prison?” she asked. “Now that anyone who can read and cipher knows it’s not sustainable, why do we not demand its carefully engineered deconstruction so the damage is controlled?”
Arthur marched out of the kitchen and said, “And what part of freedom is letting unelected bureaucrats create mountains of senseless regulations for which they are accountable to no one?”
Mark said, “Well, you guys can nay-say all you want, but to me freedom means having a government that heals the sick, feeds the hungry, houses the homeless, creates jobs and provides for old age.”
Larry retorted, “Safety nets are fine – but when they become hammocks for some and cocoons for others, they become straitjackets for taxpayers.”
I decided to change our tune.
“Long may our land be bright, with Freedom’s holy light, protect us by thy might, great God, our King.”
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.