On a recent trip up the Hudson Valley, I spent time in the FDR library.

I was taken by the phenomenal displays of rich artifacts and totally struck by the four freedoms.


That phrase, of course, comes from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s final state of the union address, in 1941. He described his dream:   “a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.” He added that it was a “ basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.”

  • The first:  “freedom of speech and expression–everywhere in the world.”
  • The second: “freedom of every person to worship God in his own way–everywhere in the world.”
  • The third: “freedom from want–which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants-everywhere in the world.”
  • The fourth: “freedom from fear–which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments.”  That means, he continued, so fully “that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor–anywhere in the world.”

It is this fourth freedom, freedom from fear that I would phrase a bit differently today. Can you imagine a world where no one is afraid of armament AND no child is afraid of the future.   Amid so much pessimism in the news, let’s think about how far we’ve come since 1941. This better world is attainable in our own time.

Happy July 4th — Celebrate freedom and commit to making it real.

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