As I watched massive demonstrations in Hong Kong again today, and contemplated the struggles all over the world for Man to be free, and to enjoy his freedom to choose his own religion, his own career, create his own family, feed his family, and support the government he wants, I am reminded of one very important message today.
Whether you are a Christian celebrating Christmas, a Jew celebrating Hanukkah, a member of a different religion, or not a member of any religion, there is one thing Christmas I believe should remind us all of here in America.
That is our First Amendment with its freedom of religion. My ancestors I know came here because they were repressed in their own land for the free exercise of their spiritual beliefs. Yours may have come for similar reasons. Or for some of you, yours did not even come here of their own free will.
But, we are all here now. And, over time, great freedoms have been won and passed on to us–including our precious freedom of religion. It is not freedom from religion that our Founders envisioned and protected. They wanted posterity to have the freedom to choose any religion, spiritual foundation, or nothing at all. Even atheists are protected oddly enough through that very amendment. It is a classic case of: To have or not to have, to be or not to be. The choice is ours.
And as long as we mutually agree to uphold that freedom, value it, preserve it, and practice it towards our countrymen, I believe the goal of Peace is attainable.
It is the season of Peace. That state of being is desired everywhere. More important to me is not just Peace. Because you can have Peace by surrendering, allowing yourself to be enslaved. The enslaver then stops the fighting because he has subjugated you.
No, for me, it is Peace with Freedom. And that is my prayer for everyone, everywhere today.