The Puritan, John Winthrop spoke of America as “the city on a hill” as he gazed upon the shores of his new home from the confines of his ship, the Arbella. President Ronald Reagan inspired freedom lovers around the world as he too spoke in glowing terms of this “city on a hill.” Winthrop and Reagan captured the very heartbeat of every human being with that phrase as they echoed the cry for freedom – a freedom which is made possible by democracy.
Former Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleeza Rice paints a beautiful portrait of freedom in her most recent book, Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom. Rice explores the early foundations of American democracy by providing a basic framework for freedom.
Most of the book is devoted to telling stories about the hope of democracy in countries like the Russian Federation, Columbia, Poland, Kenya, and the Middle East. Readers will not be surprised to learn that while democracy is on the rise in the world, the promise of democracy is usually a long path and is usually accompanied by pain and bloodshed. Some nations like Germany and Japan are “stabilizing forces for good.” But other nations like Russian and China “seem determined to disrupt the global order.”
Dr. Rice makes full use of her experience as Secretary of State by sharing stories about her role in helping various nations move forward in their quest for democracy. Readers will quickly note that Secretary Rice has a passion for freedom and is quick to defend the downtrodden. Rice adds, “Giving voice to the voiceless is a moral cause for a country – America that is based on an idea: that human freedom is the source of human dignity and progress. That cannot be true for us and not for them.”
Democracy by Condoleeza Rice is a book for every American. Liberals and conservatives alike should digest this book and be reminded of the great price of freedom. Indeed, “The United States has been a north star for those seeking liberty not because it is perfect, but because it was born imperfect and is still struggling with imperfection. That has always been the best argument for America’s example – and America’s engagement. We are living proof that the work of democracy is never done. For those who are just starting – stumbling, and starting again – that is reassuring and inspiring. And it is reason to be a voice for them as they struggle in their freedom – just as we do – to chart a better future.”
Dr. Rice tells about the time she visited the home of Lech Wałęsa in Gdańsk, Poland. One hundred thousand Polish workers were waving flags and shouting, “Bush, Bush, Bush … Freedom, Freedom, Freedom.” Rick turned to her colleague as said, “This is not exactly what Karl Marx meant when he said, ‘Workers of the world unite.”
So the atheistic worldview of Karl Marx is relegated to the ash heap of history. And the city on a hill shines brightly, still. However, there are still forces that loom large and cast a dark shadow on our liberty. Democracy is a celebration of our liberty and a vivid reminder of the freedom we enjoy as Americans.