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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Happiness and the Four Freedoms

How free do you feel to “be happy” and enjoy life? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 943).

The Four Freedoms were goals articulated by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 6, 1941. In an address known as the Four Freedoms speech (technically the 1941 State of the Union address), he proposed four fundamental freedoms that people "everywhere in the world" ought to enjoy:
    Freedom of speech and expression
    Freedom of worship
    Freedom from want
    Freedom from fear
His inclusion of the latter two freedoms went beyond the traditional US Constitutional values protected by its First Amendment, and endorsed a right to economic security and an internationalist view of foreign policy. They also anticipated what would become known decades later as the "human security" paradigm in social science and economic development. (

The question—How free do you feel to “be happy” and enjoy life?— makes me tremble for I am well aware to the extent that I feel untested. My life has been pretty much like that shown in the Normal Rockwell depiction of the four freedoms:

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Worship

Freedom from Want

Freedom from Fear

I can only guess how those suffering from racial hatred and discrimination in America must have felt when they heard FDR's speech in January of 1941. But for me personally the paintings show very aptly the blessings I have received and have taken for normalcy all my life. Any impositions on any of these freedoms at anytime were largely self-imposed.

Thus I feel free to “be happy” and enjoy life but I also understand full-well how all this could change and, indeed, has never existed for many in the world. “Eternal vigilance” and evangelism are required but the forms such vigilance and evangelism should take are never obvious; and even when obvious are too often not performed. Sometimes our very contentment and happiness testify against us. 

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