Last night I shared a quote from G.K. Chesterton (the late British journalist) in a talk I was giving on community. Chesterton wrote, “The eagle knows no liberty, he only knows loneliness.”
The eagle is the symbol of freedom and liberty. It is a truly American symbol. Yet in a country that is struggling with widespread isolation and loneliness, Chesterton’s insight is important. The eagle might be majestic and free, but it is alone. Likewise, Americans might have autonomy and individuality, but we are alone. Our prize is our curse.
A true community takes sacrifice, commitment and interdependence. It occurs when we use our freedom to choose others rather than choose ourselves. Maybe we should stop worshipping the eagle and realize our happiness is less tied to liberty than it is to the community.