At our A Course in Miracles meeting yesterday one of our members asked during our break: “Why are there so many homeless and hungry people in America when we’re supposed to be the richest and most powerful nation on earth?”
It is a valid question and one whose answer includes the very foundation that the United States of America was founded upon. I have long found it irksome that our founding fathers skewed John Locke’s Natural Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property into Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. The Pursuit of Happiness, what a meaningless phrase that is in and of itself.
As part of our United States Government course I ask our high school students to write a Compare and Contrast Essay between the Bill of Rights and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms as outlined in his 1941 State of the Union Address. To iterate the Four Freedoms are: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear. While it is clear the Freedom of Speech and Religion are covered by the First Amendment most students do not grasp what Roosevelt’s Freedom from Want and Fear actually implies.
What does it mean to be Free from Want? How would the lives of the people everywhere change if they did not want for adequate jobs and living wages? If they did not want for adequate food and shelter? If they did not want for adequate health and dental care? If they did not want for respect and dignity?
And what does it mean to be Free from Fear? How would the lives of the people everywhere change if they did not fear aliens and homemade bombs? If they did not fear their neighbors armed with guns? If they did not fear the police shooting first? If they did not fear gangsters and drive by shootings? If they did not fear enslavement? If they did not fear pollution and the chemicals in our foods? If they did not fear losing jobs to younger and cheaper workers? If they did not fear not having enough to survive when you cannot get work?
Yes, how would the lives of the people everywhere change if they no longer lacked and were no longer afraid? Perhaps that would be the true Pursuit of Happiness.