“Liberty and good government do not exclude each other; and there are excellent reasons why they should go together. Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.” (Lord Acton; The History of Freedom in Antiquity, 1877)
Someday, years in the future, there will come a day when future Americans will look back upon our times and will form opinions and judgments about the choices and decisions we made. This is the burden of all people, yet our heirs will have a different scale upon which they will weigh us: liberty. How much liberty did we preserve for their use?
In our day and age, we face a trial of faith. Like those who came before us, we struggle with the basic concepts of freedom: who are we; who do we want to be; what is government “by the people?” Trust in our Republic is wavering as we are led by one person, one party, one “ism” after another away from the true faith. Perhaps we have forgotten the words of one of our greatest of leaders, John Adams: “There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.” (John Adams: Oration at Braintree, Spring 1772.)
We on the right are as prone to this as those on the left: both sides suffer from the painful delusion that an individual can save us. Whether it be a party candidate or an individual who is trusted and sought after in a time of crisis, we, like the socialist, look to that one person who can ride to our rescue and save us from ourselves. We do so when we vote for the candidate most likely to prevail, ignoring the candidate who will best defend our freedoms.
In doing so, we miss a point of paramount importance: liberty is a fragile proposition. It relies on many things for survival: one of those being a people worthy of liberty. The problem is summed up by 18th Century French Poet Joseph de Maistre: “Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite.” Every country has the government it deserves. (Letter to M. Le chevalier August 1811)
If the truth of these words is without dispute, what does it say of us, these United States of America, in 2012? Over the past century, we’ve begun casting off the robes and garnishments of religion and morality. We’ve replaced faith in the Creator to Whom we owe allegiance with faith in the individual, which is no faith at all. Because faith is only as good as the object of that faith.
Liberty. What is it? To hear the words of some, liberty means no restraints whatsoever. Our founders would disagree: “Were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver…” (Thomas Paine, Common Sense) Anarchy does not equal liberty.
“Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.” (Frederic Bastiat: The Law)
By far the most difficult of concepts to embrace in our pursuit of liberty is that mankind was never meant to rule itself. “Our constitution is only fit for a moral and religious people. It is wholly unsuited to the governance of any other kind.” (John Adams)
We are meant to be guided by a polestar outside of humanity itself; one which we’ve allowed to be stripped away from us. It is upon this moral and religious foundation which liberty rests: the freeman must be guided by an ethos not our own. Liberty then, is self-rule by a people who live by laws which supersede any which mere humanity can pen on its own. Could that be why those who seek to transition us to something other than a free nation so vigorously attack anything which is religious in nature?
The answer is obvious and our course of action clear: we must embrace that which the left fears. Our greatest weapon is not words or the power of an individual, but the moral imperative which says we are given by our Creator certain rights.
Let’s wield this weapon well.
© 2012 SW Henderson Publications
Licensed for single use by the Author.