“Americans emphasize liberty but tend to forget loyalty. We want the freedom to become as rich as is possible without regard to the poverty and suffering of our neighbors.”
In his January 3, 1965 radio sermon, Rabbi Olan spoke of two ideals that often seem to be at odds with each other: liberty and loyalty. He noted that too much liberty produces chaos and misery. Also, unquestioning loyalty leads to the rise of demigogues and totalitarianism. There is a natural, creative tension between liberty and loyalty (moral restraint) that holds the excesses of both forces in check. Olan worried that our nation was losing its way because the quest for the personal good was replacing the quest for the common good as our highest aspiration. “What’s in it for me?” was the spirit of the age.
“The most serious threat to American democracy lies in our failure to unite liberty and loyalty into a wholesome way of life.”
Rabbi Olan’s 1965 crisis was the global spread of Communism. Our is the COVID-19 pandemic. Conscience demands that we think of others and take steps to protect them, even people we do not know. Are you showing that kind of community and national loyalty? Or are you living as if you were a nation of one?
*Written by Tim Binkley.*