Inalienable Rights Today, freedom is observed, interpreted, and practiced in many different ways. The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence gives everybody their natural rights as a citizen of the United States. Although these laws are written on paper and certified, people extend their version of freedom and worldview in their own way. Frederick Douglass speaks about his freedom as a slave and his point of view on slavery. Dante speaks about the tale of Ulysses and his flourishing. Lastly, Martin Luther speaks his mind about the future of a man depending on his faith.
During the the of July anniversary, Frederick Douglass was asked to give an oration and he speaks about the concept of this so-called “freedom” that America is known to have provide. During his speech, he starts with the meaning of the 4th of July for a black man. He says, “… The distance between this platform and the slave plantation, from which I escaped, is considerable… ” (189). During the days when he was a slave, he would not be respected in any way. In his speech, he mentions that our forefather’s were brilliant men who created this land to be the way it is, including the Declaration f Independence.
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He continues on by telling the people that they don’t have the right to “wear out and waste the hard-earned fame” built by their forefathers (193). Frederick Douglass argues that if America is a land of “freedom”, why limit those rights to people of a different ethnicity. He also blames the American church for allowing slavery to take place. He condemns them by claiming, “the American church is guilty, when viewed in connection with what it is doing to uphold slavery; but it is superlatively guilty… ” (201). The American church doesn’t support the ruling of leaver, but it also doesn’t do anything to abolish it.
During this time, a person would be doing Justice by sending an escaped slave back to their master, Frederick calls this blasphemy and welcomes every religion but this one (200). Since “divine” priests and the preachers of the “gospel” take sides with the oppressors, he ridicules religion. He then argues that there is not a “single pro-slavery’ clause written in the constitution (204). Towards the end of his speech, he states that slavery will inevitably be abolished and he clings onto the “hope” provided by the “great principles” of the Declaration of Independence (205).
In Dent’s Inferno, his view on freedom is more based on a religious point of view. Ulysses was condemned to hell because he decided to satisfy his thirst for knowledge while disregarding any consequences. In this passage, Ulysses sets out on a Journey with his crewmen, and as they gained sight of a mountain “higher by far than any ever seen”, they were hit by a storm and were swallowed up by the sea (233). Dent’s freedom consists of an endless amount of choices that satisfy one’s desires but will ultimately have to face the consequences.
In the Inferno, Ulysses was sent to Hell cause of his personal desires and his ability to follow through to achieve them. Dante views “hell” as a place where one is condemned based on their actions. This leads to the question that what if your actions were Justified by honest morals. That question is excluded in Dent’s world, completely disregarding our own sense of top from God to the folks on the bottom. But in the end, your rank won’t matter because if you were to not submit to God and follow your own desires, you will be sentenced to hell. Martin Luther also presents his view on freedom in a more religious point of view.
Martin Luther believes that your freedom comes solely from your faith and not by the works you do. He categorizes your faith as an “inner man” and your works as the “outer man” (393). Your “inner man” has the option of being either Just or UN-Just, leading you into heaven and leading you into hell, respectively. No matter what works you do, if it is not reinforced by the good nature of the “inner man”, it has no meaning (393). For example, a wealthy public figure donates millions of dollars to charity but if his intentions aren’t sincere and was done to gain more public recognition, it has no meaning.
As the “inner man” is able to influence the “outer man”, the “outer man” cannot influence the “inner man”. Faith cannot be converted from unrighteous to righteous solely through the works. Martin Lather’s process to achieve his freedom is to acquire complete faith. Frederick Douglass, Dante, and Martin Luther all have different viewpoints on freedom. Frederick Douglass version of freedom is more practical, where people should be stripped of their rights because of their ethnicity. Dent’s view on freedom is by living your life righteously through their works. Martin Luther sees freedom as meeting you gain through your faith.
Dent’s worldview and Martin Lather’s worldview can be seen as opposites. In Dent’s description of hell, it is divided by the works that the individual did and not by their level of faith (227). In Martin Lather’s point of view, you are condemned to hell depending on whether your faith is righteous or unrighteous, disregarding all the works that you’ve done in your life. Frederick Douglass worldview is more of a man being able to declare his rights backed by the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. In my opinion, I would side with both Martin Luther and Frederick Douglass.
Martin Lather’s claim of one being sent to heaven or hell depending on their faith makes logical sense. If one were to be noted for his generous offerings to charity, his honest faith of doing it through sincerity would have to reinforce it. To me, his view on freedom seems like a fail-safe method. I also agree with how Frederick Douglass sees freedom. A man should not be restricted to his rights based on his ethnicity. Both the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence should extend to all the peoples of America. This is how my worldview and my interpretation of freedom.