I am a Canadian.
Free to speak without fear.
Free to worship in my own way.
Free to stand for what I think right.
Free to oppose what I think wrong, and
Free to choose those who shall govern my country.
This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.
It was in the days of my youth in 1960, when Kennedy was President, the Prime Minister of Canada, John Diefenbaker, introduced this preamble to the Canadian Bill of Rights.
I am not always conscious of this ideal, but in retrospect, as I just turned 67, I now realize it has been my internal auto pilot governing how I conduct myself, and how I deal with others.
I think this Canadian ideal of Liberty is totally consonant with America´s highest ideals.
I suppose that´s why Americans don´t know much about Canada, your closest neighbour and friend. We don´t cause you problems like the other countries you do know about do. Canada is your most secure source of oil in the world, and we haven´t rocked your boat, even with the Great Lakes between us. We have been at your side when it mattered.
The American Declaration of Independence from the bad, old ways things were done embodies the very same ideal contained in the opening paragraph:
´WE hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.´
What has this got to do with the American Liberty Bell and all it symbolizes? There is a big difference between espousing high ideals and practising what you preach. The Liberty Bell rings hollow in proclaiming Liberty throughout the land when the early wealth of a Nation is built on the backs and labour of slaves. That is why the crack is there.
I believe, as a Canadian and objective observer, President Obama is beginning the attempt to repair that crack between people. Obviously, being a prisoner of The White House, it is up to WE, The People, to actually do it, whatever is necessary.
I was upwardly mobile in the business world in 1975 when I experienced a Spiritual awakening as powerful and unexpected as the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus. At 30, I sold all my possessions, and with a back pack on my back, headed into the Unites States to discover the Spirit of ´76.
For part of that 14 month experience I spent time in Tempe, at Arizona State University. I joined with the Cardinal Newman Center, the just off Campus Roman Catholic church. The Center itself was a new, one level, L shaped building, built around the old church well over 100 years old at the corner. It was unsafe to use for worship. but it had a BIG Bell in the Bell Tower. Every Day, someone was assigned to ring that Bell by a long rope about four inches thick in diameter.
The Priest would let me read the scriptures during services, but as often as I asked, he would not let me ring the Bell. One Day, to my great joy, the priest gave me the key to the old church and told me to ring the Bell and call the Faithful to Worship.
Being my first time in the old church, the Bell looked to be so high up in the tower as I grabbed hold of the long rope. Starting slowly, I started to get into it and pulled that rope as I prayed to the Angel of the Bell.
With every fiber of my being, with all my vibrations praying/thinking to the Angel, I thought, ¨Lord, let the sound of this Bell rise above the noise and the din of the city traffic. Let the sound of the Bell rise above all the petty hatreds, squabbles, conflicts and jealousies. Lord, let this Bell proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land!¨ I was really getting into it.
The priest came running over in a panic. His hands were covering his ears as he said, ¨ Stop it! Stop it! You´re ringing that Bell too loud.¨ They never let me ring the Bell again.