I finish things; I like to finish things. But every day is another chance for a new epiphany for me, a brand new scales-falling-from-my-eyes moment when I see the world as I have never seen it before.
Because I write, I get to watch myself over time, watch as new ideas spin up in the threads of my thoughts, watch as they weave their way into the tapestry of the whole. But I never want that image, that map of the universe reflected from my mind – I never want for that tapestry to be completed. I never want to say: There is nothing left for me to discover.
I’m safe from that fate today – Independence Day, July 4th, 2014, my wedding anniversary – because I have a brand new way of seeing all of Western Civilization.
The source of the liberty you celebrate today is what?
The right to speak freely?
The right to your own armaments?
The right to own the land you live on?
These are the Hoplite rights, the rights that every American owns in common with the Hoplite Greeks, the citizen-soldiers who won their freedom from tyranny by fighting – wisely but also very well – in their own behalf. We are what they are, and America’s freedom began not in 1776 but more than 3,000 years ago, in the Hellas.
And the rights I’ve listed above are actually in inverse order of precedence:
You can speak freely because you can back up your words with menace, if necessary, when you are menaced for having spoken.
And you can obtain and maintain your arms because you have a defensible redoubt in which to contain your arsenal and armory – your home, your freehold.
But the question that everyone should ask and no one does is this:
Why is there a freehold? Why is it there? Why does anyone care enough to make that kind of investment in money, time and effort – possibly incurring great risks – for what really amounted to a small farm to the Greeks, and which may be a substantially smaller parcel – perhaps just an hypothesized hypothecated cube of displaced air – by now?
A political philosopher will insist the reason for that freehold is the irrepressible independence of humanity – the humanity that is at least four-sevenths fully-enslaved as I write this, and three-sevenths partially-enslaved.
An economist will point out that the idea of the freehold is the root of the idea of capitalism – of mutual profit by trade, but also simply of direct profit from sustained, focused effort. The right to retain the fruit of your labors made you fruitful. Moreover, you can extend your profitability by reinvesting in it – or in your children’s future productivity.
But only the poet can tell us the why of that freehold – the reason that a man went to all that trouble to begin with, convincing a woman to join him in this labor of Hercules. He will wear her down with his children and their endless needs in their lives together, but he will drive himself into an early grave to provide for all of them – and he may well perish in combat, defending their lives at the expense of his own.
Why would he do this?
The freedom of the Greeks – of The West, of the Americans – emerges not from words and not from weapons, not from philosophy and not from the phalanx, the liberty we honor today is the full expression of the storgic romantic love that binds human families together.
Why does he obtain and improve his freehold? Why does he arm it? Why does he carry his bride over the threshold of their new home? Why do they both work night and day, always looking for ways to improve their lives? Why is he willing to lay down his life, if necessary, to defend their lives and that freehold? Why do they give everything they can – everything they have within them – to their children? Why do they stay together even after the children are gone, living and working side-by-side all the way to the grave?
For love.Whatever pecuniary profit he makes from his life – whatever is not stolen from him by insects, bandits and governmental parasites – is a secondary consequence. The profit he sought all along, and the profit he reaps in abundance when he gets things right, is the love that drove him to undertake this enterprise in the first place.
He wants a wife and a family, and he wants it so badly that he built all of Western Civilization in pursuit of that inestimable value. Everything we have – our technological wealth, our cornucopian abundance of food, our vast cascading waterfalls of words and images and ideas – all of this emerges from the love a man has for his own wife and his own children. He wants to be more of a man – more than a slave, more than a stooge or a toady or a thug, more than a bum, more than a brigand – and he brings himself, his family and all the world more of everything in consequence.
I released my book Father’s Day on Father’s Day, but Independence Day is the father’s day that should matter most to Americans. This is the day we celebrate the love of liberty that began with the love of a man for his woman and with their love for the family they made together.
The political entity that matters most is not the state but the family, that storgic-love-borne us-against-everything pact that makes their freehold free. Everything we love – including the liberty we profess to love today – emerges from that love.