The other night, I was flipping through the channels on TV. As usual, I was having difficulty finding anything worth watching. Just as I was about to give up, I happened to come upon a rerun of “The Sound of Music.” That particular movie had always been one of my parents’ favorites and it became a family tradition in my childhood to watch it whenever it was on.
As I was watching that night, I realized that what I had thought (as a child) was a nice little story about a man and a woman and a bunch of kids was really a cautionary tale about freedom and the choices we make to preserve it. I’m not talking about Maria’s choices to follow her heart rather than staying in the convent or the regimented manner in which the von Trapp children were being raised. I’m talking about the life and death, good vs. evil struggle of World War II and how the choices made in those days influenced not only the world at the time but the world of today, as well.
At one point in the movie, Captain von Trapp is lost in thought, looking out into the distance. The Baroness whom he is courting asks him where he is. He replies, “In a world that is quickly disappearing.” Not long after, the Captain ends up marrying Maria. While on their honeymoon, the Anschluss takes place and they rush back to Salzburg, which is now officially part of Nazi Germany.
The Anschluss was the event in 1938 wherein Austria “chose” to peacefully become part of Germany. The Austrian people actually had the opportunity to vote in a referendum on whether or not to do so. The official results were 99.73% in favor. In point of fact, there was no freedom of choice in the matter. The outcome of the plebiscite was predetermined.
What is worth noting, however, is that there were Austrians at the time who truly favored union with Germany. Some of them saw the Germans as being the ethnic brethren of Austria. Some were attracted by the fact that Hitler was actually Austrian and not German. Some had relatives in Germany. Some actually believed Hitler’s inhuman and abhorrent philosophies.
Many, on the other hand, were simply afraid of conflict with Germany. These people would be the 1930s equivalent of those Americans who drive around with bumper stickers saying “War is never the answer.” There are people in every era of history who view conflict as inherently wrong, regardless of the purpose or who is the aggressor or even who is being victimized prior to the commencement of hostilities.
This would be a lovely philosophy, were it true. The fact is that war freed us from the tyranny of Great Britain. War freed Texas from Mexico, allowing it to become a sovereign nation and later a member State of our Union. War freed the slaves not just in the South but throughout the U.S. War ended the Holocaust (not soon enough for the millions upon millions who became the victims of Hitler’s evil). War freed China and Korea and most of the Pacific from Japanese domination and dictatorship. War forced North Korea back across its border with the South. A series of smaller conflicts and America’s preparedness to fight a major war against the U.S.S.R. ended the barbarism that was Marxist-Leninist Communism in Europe when we won the Cold War. War evicted Saddam’s goons from Kuwait. War freed Afghanistan from the monstrosities perpetrated by the Taliban regime. War toppled Saddam from power and is allowing Kurdish Iraq to flourish while bringing true democracy to the whole of Iraq. The current World War against Islamo-fascist terrorism will make Islamic extremism a footnote in history and allow the majority of Muslims to take back their religion from the fundamentalists who have hijacked it.
The point is not that war is good. It isn’t. The point is that when no other choice is left, to reject conflict as a way of defending our rights and those of others is to commit suicide and to contribute to the murders of the victims.
On a local scale, political conflict seems to be unavoidable. We, too, are living in a world which is quickly disappearing. We are not the only community which is faced with a local government whose selfish agenda requires the subjugation of the rights and freedoms of the townspeople. It is happening all over the U.S., but especially in the so-called “blue states.”
The America I was taught to love and cherish was a nation where people of goodwill could agree to disagree without those in power trashing the rights of those who were not. It was not a nation of “empty mantras.” Words and phrases like “tolerance,” “freedom of speech,” “civil rights” and “open government” would have meant something in that America. That America, however, is rapidly fading into the mists of memory. If the Liberal Establishment has its way, the true meaning of our rights and freedoms will not even be found in history books, lest someone develop unwelcome ideas about resurrecting American liberty.
If we shy away from conflict, if we decide that political peace with those who would turn us into an underclass is preferable to taking a stand and consistently speaking out against the terrible deeds of those who would rob us of our liberty, the future of our community, our families and even our nation as a whole will be lost.
Anyone who has seen “The Sound of Music” will certainly remember Captain von Trapp singing:
Every morning you greet me
Small and white, clean and bright
You look happy to meet me
Blossom of snow
May you bloom and grow
Bloom and grow forever
Bless my homeland forever
Our Edelweiss, that clean and bright flower which greets us each day and makes it possible to live our lives, is our Constitution and the freedoms it embodies. Let us pray that our homeland, the greatest Nation in human history, will be forever blessed by its liberties and let us take a stand to ensure that blessing for ourselves and our posterity.