Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Will to Be Free, the Strength to Live in Liberty

This article was originally published on Dec. 23rd, 2007 at

People are not born free. They are born into a system. These systems are called communities. These communities are usually made up of many smaller units known as families. It is within this unit where most of us are able to exercise the most control. It is within this unit where most will find the most comfort. It is within this unit that most will feel the most security. Within the larger units of community the individual can still exert quite a bit of power, but it takes a little more effort. At this level, friends and neighbors become important. If you are known as a good person, a person whose words and deeds are principled and honest, that should be honored. These are the people that local communities should turn to for advice and leadership. If a person has gained a reputation for dishonest, unprincipled behavior that person should be shunned. Lies should be exposed and breach of trust revealed. These sorts of behaviors should not be tolerated and people who engage in them should be removed from the good graces of community and encouraged to change. When honesty and principle are rewarded the individual is motivated to become honest and principled. This should be maintained to the highest level of national government. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case in today’s United States of America.

In a free society, we need to maintain our freedoms. It has been said that the cost of freedom is eternal vigilance. It seems that perhaps we have not been so vigilant. Part of vigilance is to hold tightly to one’s free will, to not entrust our will to another. Yet we have not done this. We have trusted our will to liars. We have trusted our will to crooks. We have trusted our will to those who abuse the powers we grant them. We must reclaim our will if we are to hold those with whom we entrusted the power to represent responsible when they fail to exercise that will. To reclaim our will, we must entrust it with other, more reliable and principled individuals and with ourselves. As a free society, we need to keep a closer eye on our representatives and make sure they are held accountable when the people’s will is ignored, not just trust that they will do the right thing.

When one becomes an adult, he must exercise his will if he wishes to live as a free man. He must make the decisions that affect his life. He must exercise self reliance. He may choose to allow another to make some decisions for him, but as long as he does so voluntarily that’s ok. When another forces one to accept decisions without consulting him, when another person or group of persons remove one’s ability to decide for himself through coercion or threat of force, than one is experiencing a circumstance akin to slavery. When government becomes overbearing and invasive, when it decides to legislate laws contrary to its own rules, the people must stand up for themselves and let those in power know that bullying is not acceptable. Otherwise, we have lost our will to be free. We cannot let fear control our judgment. We mustn’t lull ourselves into the false sense of security that the nanny state offers. The best way to insure our security is to demand openness and accountability in government. No nation is as safe as the nation so seeped in liberty as to hold no secrets.

In 1989 the people of East Germany showed the world what it meant to have the will to be free. The wall came down. The same year a brave young man faced down a column of tanks in Tiananmen square. He showed the world what it meant to have the will to be free and even though the Chinese government murdered thousands at that time and arrested thousands more, who’s to say how many lives he may have saved and what effect his small action had on those in command of the situation? A couple of years later the will of the soviet people was shown as that empire collapsed and many countries realized their independence. These are examples of countries who realized the tyranny they lived under decided to exercise their will to gain their freedom. Yet, as time has passed, we in the supposed freest nation on earth have allowed our own freedoms to be eroded and our constitution to be compromised. Do we need those who have lived under authoritative states to remind us what it takes to be free? We do not yet need to take such drastic actions to be free, and if we play our cards right we never will have to. We simply need to show that we do care. We need to show the establishment that we are paying attention. Electing Ron Paul, champion of the Constitution, for president would go a long way in showing those in power that the people are serious about protecting their God given rights. Electing him and other representatives that share his views would go further.

But showing the will to be free is not enough. We must have the strength to maintain that liberty. For decades we have been apathetic and ignored the warning signs of our impending slide toward collectivism. We did not pay attention as the government grew. We ignored them as they crept deeper and deeper into our everyday lives. We let them get away with crimes too numerous to list, both large and small, without holding them accountable. We let them bypass the constitution, a document written to limit their power and protect the people, too often without consequence. Now we stand on the brink at a time when one wrong step, one small disaster, one terror attack, could possibly lead us into a tyranny that would make those mentioned above look tame. We must have the strength to resist such a slide. We must have the strength of our convictions to say “Enough! We will no longer allow such abuses of our liberties.” If we are to live in liberty, we must be able to stand up to those who would try to frighten us and tell them we are not afraid. We must let them know that we can take care of ourselves and run our own lives. We must let them know that we do not wish to be taken care of any longer. And we must let them know that we will only accept people of honor, honesty, and integrity to lead this nation and represent our interests. When we can do this we will not only be able to live in liberty, but we will have given the rest of the world an example to follow, for history shows that out of freedom and liberty will come prosperity, but out of fear, greed and brutality will come only the ruins of a fallen empire.

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