“It is said that adversity introduces us to ourselves,” said President Bush three days after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
“America is a nation full of good fortune, with so much to be grateful for, but we are not spared from suffering. In every generation, the world has produced enemies of human freedom. They have attacked America because we are freedom’s home and defender, and the commitment of our fathers is now the calling of our time.”
Freedom is America’s precious treasure―and never more than a few decisions away from being lost. External acts of war and terrorism can undermine a nation. But as Russian thinker Alexander Solzhenitsyn famously said, “the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts.”
With economic uncertainty, conflicts abroad, and an emerging political season, it’s heartening to remember that character is the first defense against the loss of freedom. Character is the thing for which each of us bears sole responsibility, while being our own greatest power for good. Character under pressure built America, brought us through tough times, and will keep our country “freedom’s home and defender.”
Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director and Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.