What is Freedom? Defining an Idea to Obvious to Debate

They believed every man must find his own place in a world in which a place has been made for him”.

Ralph Husted, an Indiana businessman and classic-liberal, wrote those words in reference to the Founders in an essay entitled ‘The Moral Foundation of Freedom’.   The subject of his essay was the underpinnings of our republic and the interdependence of certain freedoms.   Husted defined three basic freedoms, and argued none of them are separable from the others because the security of any one hinges on the legitimacy of all.   De-legitimize any one of these three, and you have undermined the legitimacy of the remaining two.   The three freedoms he listed were: ‘religious’, ‘economic’ and ‘political’.   He said nothing of other freedoms enshrined in our Bill of Rights and Constitution, not to mention a whole raft of freedoms since discovered, claimed, legislated and accommodated by various factions.   A case can be made that some of these other rights (e.g., life, self-defense) are more or equally fundamental and indivisible.  Be that as it may, his argument is solid as to the interdependence and indivisibility of these particular rights.

It can and should, however, be noted those rights placed in our Bill of Rights have even greater interdependence and indivisibility by reason of the manner in which they were placed off limits, and by the covenant that was created between government and governed respecting those limits.   Rights unspecified in this manner may be of equal or greater validity and consequence to liberty, but, other than the vague wording afforded them, have no ‘legally established’ presence; and are, therefore, subject to debate.  This may seem hairsplitting, but denying the existence of abortion rights having little Constitutional protection or recognition does not hazard Constitutionality the way denying or subverting 2nd Amendment protected rights hazards 1st Amendment protected rights.

Husted’s simple declaration of something the Founders undeniably believed goes to the root of what it meant to be free in the context of their America.   In an ordered and orderly society where places were assigned by birth, such a statement would have ranked as heresy, and would have earned a flogging at the very least.   Yet, by the late 18th century that presumption was fast crumbling, and something new and less ordered was taking its place.   America had the advantage of a clean slate.  A century and a half of Europeans accommodating themselves to and borrowing from a native culture much closer to man’s primitive state than known in Britain had much to do with that.   Theirs was an environment in which ‘each man finding his own place’ was the norm, and not some novelty to be considered before accepting or rejecting.   Ergo, the Founder’s did not suddenly discover and subsequently accommodate themselves to this ‘novelty’.   They were already well steeped in it.   It was part of the very air they breathed from birth, and they rebelled because those freedoms were suddenly and arbitrarily snatched from them.   The crown thought it was within its rights to do so, but British colonists saw themselves as operating within a system on a par with other Brits politically.   They also saw themselves as part of a political tradition that proudly and automatically resisted encroachment (i.e., English Civil Wars and the Glorious Revolution of 1688).  It mattered little to them they were, in fact, more free this side of the pond than the average British commoner.  ‘Each man finding his own place’ was, for them, a given; something none of them gave much actual thought to.   Yet, it was also something all of them, regardless of faction, implicitly believed and would have heartily defended as their ‘right’.   That none of them brought it up, either then or later, is because it was, to them, too obvious to require discussion.   Yet, this idea of ‘finding one’s own place’ is key to understanding the system they created.   Without that understanding, their creation is soon lost to other considerations.   That socialists enthusiastically attack their creation is in large part due to a cultural-disconnect occasioned by an education bereft of values such as theirs.

Closely related to Husted’s ‘finding one’s own place’ theme is the American tradition of ‘self-reliance’.   There have been numerous attempts of late to explode this tradition as ‘mythology’.   I agree self-reliance was less important than it became later on (i.e., during the great westward expansion) but it was still an essential ingredient of our colonial makeup, not least among Revolutionary leaders many of whom were self-made men.   Colonial culture was a mix of settled and frontier, with a great deal of mobility between the two.  Enterprise, speculation, risk-taking, and assertive attitudes were common among them and their supporters, as well as among the Tory opposition.   It is found in the literature of the day, in opinionated broadsheets, diaries, sermons, political tracts, speeches, and collegial essays.   It is an oft repeated refrain of Poor Richard’s Almanac (Ben Franklin).   It is read in Jefferson’s advice to a young nephew to act independently, boldly, and to learn the arts of self-defense so that he need not rely on others for protection.   Regardless how ordinary Americans may have behaved individually, the literature alone makes plain they regarded self-reliance an important asset.  Given its cultural importance, we can safely assume many would have conformed to the ideal.

Imagine, if you will, just how far their Revolution would have gotten without a strongly self-reliant ethos.   Americans from the start had little reason to think they would succeed, and by the first winter had plenty of reason to quit.  Many did melt away, but enough stayed as kept the fight going.   ‘Freedom’ became their commonest battle-cry, and was not the cry of those who have never known such freedom, or its personal costs.   Theirs was the cry of those who knew freedoms harsh realities, yet preferred it to the kind of safe docility we know today.   The next six years saw far more defeats than victories, and none of the victories put much of a dent in Britain’s capacity or will to fight while taking a heavy toll on patriots and their families.  Yet, they persisted.   What this tells us is ordinary Americans of the day were long on character; and character is shaped by the culture they breathed.   Self-reliance really was something they esteemed greatly, and they identified that with their liberties (however imperfectly practiced).  Today’s equivalent might be environmentalism.   You may disagree and think environmentalists are all hypocrites who talk the talk more than they walk the walk, but that has not been my experience of them.   The same was true of our Revolutionary era patriots.

The other side of the Atlantic was and remains a different matter.   The French Revolution was deeply mired in questions of class, and the preservation v. elimination of existing social orders (i.e., estates).   For the French to achieve results similar to ours required a major overthrow not only in the way things were done, but also in the ways they thought about class, government, and the role of those structures in their lives; and that could not happen until thought caught up to practice.   This difference in hurdles became obvious within months, and acculturation to the ‘new ideas’ required generations.   Where Americans easily made the transition from lightly-ruled to self-rule, the French attacked one another in an orgy of blood, made multiple false starts, wasted time splitting hairs, burdened their various constitutions (15 of them) with minutia, lost and regained faith, and lost it again, and eventually settled for something terribly out of sync with ours.   Unsurprisingly, freedom is viewed differently in France and America even today.   There is some convergence, yet there is also a great deal of resistance to that convergence.   The French, both then and now, admire our Founders and their values, but not all of them or to the same extent.  Husted’s declaration, in particular, is unlikely to resonate with liberty loving Frenchmen the way it does with us.

The American Left and Right view freedom differently also, with the former invoking ideas originating from France (and elsewhere) more than here.   Conservatives and libertarians often talk at cross purposes with liberal-socialists arising out of differences in the way they and we define things.  Freedom is one of those terms we both use, but mean by them very different things.  With all this modern confusion, you’d think settling what it means to be free would be a hot topic at every dinner table, yet it is almost never discussed even among ideologically divided families.  Ideologically compatible families never discuss it for much the same reasons our founders didn’t (i.e., too obvious).  Husted’s simple statement of fact is unwelcome among leftists, and probably confuses a great many that look to government to secure places for them.   Yet, the second half of Husted’s remark (taken out of context) “a world in which a place has been made for him” might actually resonate and be mistaken by them as an affirmation of their worldview.   The Founder’s view, as captured by Husted, was that ‘finding one’s own place’ is a right, and not some arbitrary condition of existence subject to societal re-engineering.   Having to ‘find one’s own place’ may seem a daunting prospect to those conditioned to certainty and safety nets, but the alternative is having your place assigned by others whose arbitrary dispositions are more likely to damage as improve your lot.   The latter half of the sentence, nonetheless, implies “… a place has been made for ” each one of us.   If so, then by whom was it made if not by those who lord it over us.   Husted makes clear who in the sentence just prior to this one where he asserts “… they believed in God.”  God’s existence is pivotal to what follows in Husted’s reasoning, as God has, with few exceptions, provided each of us with everything we need to survive and thrive.

The modern American Right is generally in denial the Founders were true deists.  The American Left equally asserts they were mainly and truly deists, and hotly deny they had any faith whatsoever in a creator.   Neither side quite gets (or admits) being deists still marks the Founders as ‘believers in an externally ordered universe’ (aka, God).  Deism was not so much a religion as an approach to religion, one that typically resulted in greater personal faith (which is the opposite of what most people assume about deists and deism).   We see this still today.   The more we grapple with religion (e.g., metaphysics, morality, &c), the more we stumble over limits to understanding; and the more we come up against those limits, the more we are forced to admit our universe can only be explained by an external agency that is almost certainly aware of its creation and directs it in some degree.  The only alternative to admitting this is to trap ourselves into convoluted and extremely unlikely alternatives.  Some of the theories posited for a creator-less universe are actually quite brilliant, but that does not make them true or even likely (unless and until someone can either find proof it actually happened as theorized).   Many squirm and deny these limits exist, and persist in believing it is just a matter of time before someone finds that one vanishingly small loop-hole through improbability as validates the obstinacy.  Most of us yield to logic if we are intellectually honest.   The Founders were men of great integrity, so it is unsurprising most of them acknowledged such a deity does, in fact, exist and that he took a favorable interest in the success of their labors.

The Left also makes a fuss over the use of ‘providence’ in the Founders’ lexicon which they mistake as proof the Founders were uncomfortable saying ‘God’.  Their use of ‘providence’, however, is easily attributed to a popular convention of the day that in no sense suggested a diminished faith.   To the contrary, the Enlightenment encouraged personal discovery of faith.  The Founders saw themselves as part of this grand movement (the Enlightenment), and readily adapted themselves to its conventions.   One of those conventions was to make religion less superstitious and more ‘scientific’.   The Enlightenment challenged and updated a great many existing ideas, yet discarded very little.   Yes, faith did wane in some places, but also waxed in the America of their day.   Overall, faith increased from the start of the Revolution, through the Convention, and well into the early-Republic; and, not least among deism-espousing Founders.  Both the frequency and fervency of the use of terms like ‘providence’, ‘creator’, ‘heaven’, &c increased overtime; as did personal endorsements of religion (both public and private) during their era (a fact much overlooked even by conservatives).

American deists tended to a great deal of unorthodoxy to be sure (i.e., free-thinkers).   Yet few of them actually abandoned faith in a creator (Thomas Paine was a rare exception to this rule).   The faith of most of them is known to have increased as a direct result of the Revolution and Constitution in which they’d played a part.  The successful conclusion of that struggle, after much suffering and doubt, was viewed by them as nothing short of miraculous.   The struggle to keep the Confederation from falling apart tested their faith yet again; and the successful launch of the Constitution was, again, seen as proof of a ‘divine providence’ (i.e., God assisting) in their affairs.    However they described it, the agent of that ‘providence’ was the same God worshiped by their fore-bearers and countrymen (i.e., that of the Bible).   We need go no further than Jefferson who made clear statements supportive of religion throughout his life and career; and who, as late as 1823 gave proof he was a Christ-follower (though he denied believing in Jesus’ divinity).   In an 1821 letter, Jefferson spoke of ‘rational Christianity’, which combined his approach to religion with a Christian self-identification.   Most deists varied from agnostic to evangelical, and everything in between, with most tending a little more toward the former than the latter.  Washington probably flirted with deism, but soon dropped it.  Overall he remained steadfastly Episcopalian (Anglican), and he many times expressed faith in a creator and the strong need of religion for the preservation of our republic.   Washington’s faith is often discounted by leftists who regard him an intellectual lightweight in comparison to Jefferson, Madison and others.   But, close examination shows he was no lightweight, and was fully capable of holding his own in their company.   He got some of his ideas from them, to be sure and was less intellectual.  But, he also formed opinions of his own, and added some ideas of his that found their way into Founding legacy.   Virtually every Founder has left us with clear expressions of faith and of an uncompromising support for religion as the maintenance of republican virtue.   The only exception for this of which I am aware is Paine who regarded all religion as superstition.

What I do concede is Deism and the Enlightenment gave rise to the secularism that soon followed.   It is not accidental that Darwinism followed so close on the heels of freedom, and was, in part, an expression of Darwin’s personal religious antipathy and freedom to express same.   Nor is it surprising that anti-theists of the day found, in both Darwinism and Deism, ready vehicles for undermining religion.   Atheism was not something new, but it was something that had long lain dormant only awaiting the kind of tolerance of bad ideas freedom enables.   Not all Deists found reason to believe as our Founders did, and some simply abused deism to justify an already fixed atheism.   Some honestly lost faith as a result of these inquiries, but others used deism as a means to undermine faith in others.   That happened far more in Europe and Britain than here.  The French (including some recognizable deists) in particular attacked religious orders and excluded them from political participation in later stages of their revolution.   This anti-clericalism predates their revolution, but the revolution itself marks the main anti-clerical attack of the period.   Thus, the French were far more anti-religious, and their deists far more inclined to secularism and atheism than our own.   Much of the confusion regarding our own deists appears to stem from this difference in the way deism played out there versus here.

The Founders regarded some rights as essential to freedom’s preservation, and so took care to list them in a Bill of Rights as a safeguard against later misconstruction.   This Bill of Rights was, itself a sore subject among them as many felt listing some rights to the exclusion of others set a bar against those left unspecified.   That hasn’t proved much of an impediment to formulating new rights, nor to recognizing some which the Founders would have approved (e.g., privacy) and some they would almost certainly have disapproved.   Rights they would unhesitatingly support are those they (and we) regard ‘natural’, preeminent among those being ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’.   Our Bill of Rights affirms and warrants our most vital ‘political rights’ against the usurpations of government.   Among these we find: religion, speech, the press, assembly, petition of government, personal armament, property (i.e., search & seizure, quartering, probable cause, oath before magistrate describing place & items), due process (i.e., indictment, double-jeopardy, speedy trial, trial by jury, confront witnesses, nature/cause of accusation, counsel, reasonable bail, cruel & unusual punishments, and self-incrimination), state-rights, and powers not granted to be retained by states and people respectively.   Amendments 15, 19 and 26 establish and guarantee specific voting rights.   Are these all the rights guaranteed by our Constitution?   Article 3, section 3 of the Constitution provides: “No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court” and “… no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted,” which protects against a particular abuse of power against individuals.   While this establishes no explicit right, it implicitly recognizes existing rights of people and in their property.   Finally, Amendment 9 states “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people” and Amendment 10 declares “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”.  Both collectively and individually, these tell us the Founders recognized additional rights existed beyond those enumerated either in the Constitution or Bill of Rights.

As said before, the Founders were strongly divided regarding this idea of putting rights into written form.  The British Bill of Rights, on which it was based was mostly unwritten and had, for nearly a century served the British quite well.   Because of that, many felt there was greater security in unwritten (yet well and widely understood) than in written rights.  The period beginning with the English Civil Wars and ending in the American Revolution fixed many of these rights in English common law: in court rulings, in the political writings of Locke and others, in royal and parliamentary proceedings, and in tavern debates.   Already it was seen that codified laws and rights had a tendency to inflexibility and were susceptible to reinterpretation by those in power (with little to no influence by those out of power).  It must also be understood how jealous the citizens of each of the ex-colonies were regarding sovereignty, and how they identified primarily with their own states.  Many were not ready to accept the Federal government as primary arbiter of their rights, and opposed Madison’s proposal on that ground.  Some wanted rights to evolve in each of the states, gradually building up a framework of rights, the best of which would then spread to the other states and territories (i.e., living laboratory).  Thus the early republic was a loose collection of jealously guarded sovereign states bound only to the federal power for those shared objects specifically granted under the Constitution.   That made any ‘national bill of rights’ controversial as it trespassed on the states’ rights of establishing rights of their own, applicable to their own citizens only and independently of the new central power, and strongly opposed Madison’s bill as a kind of usurpation.

The Left has taken this simple idea of ‘un-enumerated rights’ to fashion new rights our founders never intended and would find quite strange.   We now have declared rights to: gay-marriage, a minimum-wage, free-stuff, old-age pensions, clean air & water, green-technology, social-justice, an unvarying climate, open-borders, sexual-equality (regardless of context), legal representation at taxpayer expense & endless appeals, a college education, gun-free zones, inoffensive-speech, abortion, an absence of tobacco smoke, and even ‘animal-rights’, to name but a few.  They are not altogether wrong in their premise un-codified rights need expounding, or that real freedom should be broadened to the degree feasible.   Nor are they entirely wrong that changes in our societal makeup require we recognize the occasional need to revise.   But, I am at a total loss how any of the above so-called ‘rights’ make any of us freer unless it is at the expense of someone else.

The right of gays to marry one another may make them feel they have achieved something, but close examination of that particular controversy makes clear gays now fall under the same regulation as the rest of us, making their new status a restriction on what they previously did without reference to government.   What the rest of us should by now realize is that state licensing of marriage and its subsequent ‘grants of privilege’ (i.e., marital deduction, hospital visitation, &c) are intrusions on what previously were matters between spouses and God, with only priests acting the momentary intermediary.   Now marriage has become a three-way affair, with government assuming a dominant and never-ending role in our lives.  At what point, did we relinquish to government our freedom to marry and live together as we see fit?   States do, of course, have some legitimate right to intervene when things get ugly (e.g., negative on marrying children, animals, coerced-marriages, spousal or child abuse &c), but otherwise should butt out.   If my gay neighbors want to call what they do a ‘marriage’ and it makes them more devoted, then fine.   Just don’t force me to call it a marriage if it doesn’t accord with my ideas on the subject (or bake wedding cakes for them).

Clean air and water, green-tech, and an unvarying climate may be good ideas (or not), but are hardly rights.  Social-justice is simply too vague and subjective to be a right.   Besides, freedoms that do not abuse the rights of others are, themselves, the greatest social-justice.   I agree you have a right to be un-harassed (i.e., speech codes) in your own private space.   But, public spaces (i.e., taxpayer-subsidized universities, streets, public gatherings, &c) don’t qualify for that.  If you don’t like what is being said in public (assuming it is sufficiently civil), then you are free to stay and make your own points, or leave if hearing the truth is just too painful.   The right of pregnant women to abort babies is a moral dilemma even Solomon could not resolve.   That modern courts have gotten around this dilemma by invalidating every unborn child’s ‘person-hood’ does not make it okay.   You still end up feeling like a lousy, rotten person (else become rotten) from aborting what would have been ‘your kids’.   Your right to a minimum-wage, free-stuff, an old-age pension, equal pay (gender adjusted), racial/gender preference, and a free education may sound great, but who pays for it.  The answer is you do.   It may seem free today, but we all end up paying for it eventually.   If you do not pay for it in cash, you will pay for it as a limitation on how much you can earn without it affecting your ‘entitlement’ (assured poverty).   Meanwhile, the creep of a politician who sold you on the idea is getting filthy rich and powerful as a result of our willingness to go along.   As a non-smoker, I am sympathetic with those who want a smoke-free environment.  Yet, as a libertarian and someone who knows a lot of smokers, I am also respectful of their right to pollute themselves.   Neither side really has a distinct ‘right’ here, but both have some skin in the game.   I believe our Founders would generally agree with the idea of ‘animal-rights’, though not to the same extent as modern animal-rights activists.   Where we are stuck is on this ‘rights’ business because it confers on animals a capacity for reason and, in many cases, gives them greater protections than we give humans.   Let’s agree to call it ‘animal-protection’ instead of ‘animal-rights’ and I think we’ll make better progress on that one.   Your gun-free zone may make you feel safer (right up to the moment some madman marches in armed to the hilt and blows you away), but it is putting the rest of us at considerable and rather pointless risk.   Finally, open-borders and endlessly legal representation for convicts have long been shown to have negative and destabilizing effects on society and good order.  These may make you feel good about yourself, but they really do harm others; and most of those harmed are those the government enablers most bemoan – the extremely poor, jobless and homeless.

Being free means I can do as I please subject only to certain minimal rules of conduct.   I am not free to physically abuse others.   Nor am I entirely free to abuse others verbally or through proxies.   I am not free to steal or cheat others of what rightfully belongs to them.  If I have less than they do, I am free to acquire as much through my own efforts and ingenuity as they have.   I am free to worship God as I believe God expects to be worshiped.   As such, I am not entirely free as God does command us to worship.   Yet, I also believe worship should never be coerced, and that God does not want it coerced.  I am free to speak my mind to government.  And, I am free to plead my case before its courts and/or a jury of my peers whenever accused of wrongdoing.   I am free to think outside the proverbial ‘box’, even if that offends some people convinced there is only one proper way to think.  I am free to lie, but not if that harms another.   Why you would want to lie is a mystery as it usually brands you a liar no one trusts.  But, that is another matter.   Lying in court (perjury, false witness), is never okay because it invariably harms.   I am free to covet, but, like lying it has negative repercussions on my character and soul.

This business of lying and the freedom to lie extends to the political realm.   We all know the old joke about lying-politicians (i.e., How can you tell a politician is lying?).   However, it is not just politicians who lie about political matters.   If I tell you the sky will fall if you don’t act immediately and as I direct to prevent it falling, you would brand me a loon.   If I then pressure Congress to pass a ‘sky-is-falling’ tax to pay for the action I want anyway, you’d be justified in branding me a thief (even if I gain nothing from it).  But, if an ex-vice president insists the climate is heating up, that we (and the planet) are all going to hell as a result, does this using provably (and knowingly) fraudulent proofs, and grows wealthy from lying about it, then apparently he is some kind of genius.   Even politicians get in on the lunacy if it has enough of the right kind of traction.   The example I just gave is of a politician capitalizing on the demands of a lunatic fringe by taking their cause to a logical objective – his own aggrandizement.  Just how free should he be to knowingly lie in this way?   We imprison those who swindle a mere handful of people, so shouldn’t we be held liable for swindling an entire nation in this way?   In our political system, we assume enough of us will see through the fraud and vote such hustlers out of office.   But, sadly, that happens infrequently.   Meanwhile, a great deal of harm is done in our name.   We could, of course, demand Congress pass yet another law outlawing such exploitation by ex-VPs, but that is always a mistake.   Politicians look out for themselves first, and are certain to craft the law in such a way as censures without it having any real teeth; it’s only real effect being to constrain everyone else but them (which is just another erosion of our freedom of action).   As for the non-politicians who abuse the political process to get their way, the best remedy is to take these loons seriously, call attention to the lunacy, and make a better case against their propositions than they can make for them.  The alternative is to relinquish all freedom now in the expectation government will have no further need of manipulating us thereafter.

In researching my topic, I looked for how others define freedom on the assumption there will be differences of opinion.  Over at Debate.org, someone posed the question ‘Does freedom exist?’   Several of the respondents (or one posing as many) are of an opinion freedom is illusory.   The nays all sound like folks who want there to be more of it, but are frustrated by excessive regulations.   The yeas appear to be of an existential bent, who give us no specifics as to what constitutes freedom, and appear to seek it in the grey areas between oppression and anarchy or tucked safely away inside our heads where none can see it or snatch it away.   Of the two, I have to score the nays higher on actual points.  However unsatisfying the responses, the question was a good one, and deserves better.   This next fellow grapples with the meaning of freedom, and then decides that somehow trumps liberty based on extensive science-fiction readings.   My own experience has taught me abstractions like ‘freedom’ are best understood by contrasting them with their opposites.   I am guessing our ex-Libertarian has little experience of oppression that he condescendingly opines so freely on the failures of the rest of us to ‘grok’ the difference between freedom and liberty.   Slightly more thoughtful was this Indian site, all of whom seem to be looking for a perfect balance of freedom with security, and disqualifying rights known to be critical to freedoms preservation in the process (e.g., “When everyone has the freedom to carry firearms, then personal security is threatened”; actually, the opposite is true).  I found lots of opinion regarding specific freedoms (e.g., speech, religious, trade, taxation, &c), but little as to what it actually means to be ‘free’.  You will also find discussions of legitimate v illegitimate freedoms (i.e., not a license to harm others, needs structure to be sustainable, natural v conferred).

All of these ideas of freedom have some validity, but the Founders had a particular shared vision of it, one that resonated around the globe.   That vision turned on the personal freedom of each to seek his destiny, to find our own place unfettered by either a surfeit of regulations or the cloying concerns of others.   This was something they understood innately, valued highly, and fought to keep.   I have known that kind of freedom, and can tell you it is not safely tucked away in my head; it is out there for all to see.   It can be seen in the way some of us live our lives un-dependent on others, refusing all assistance not actually necessary to our survival.    It can also be seen in communities and countries that go their own way regardless the scorn heaped on them (e.g., Israel).   Real freedom is not merely moral, just or economically sound, it is positively energizing.  Some countries have yet to liberate themselves in this way, and others have briefly attained it only to lose it again.  America is exceptional not only as the birthplace of this idea (yeah, there are some Brits who disagree on that point), but also as the longest surviving instance of that vision within a fully flourishing and vibrant nation.   It is enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights, and that is a large part of our secret.  The vision has been diluted, corrupted, and trampled underfoot; yet lives on, occasionally bursting forth in fresh demands by freedom-loving Americans to restore and preserve it for future generations.   Few nations on earth have quite the same veneration of freedom we do; and, I pity them that don’t.

Freedom is a messy business.  The Founders understood that, yet so great was their desire to live free they gladly traded the orderliness of what would have been an easy-sitting despotism for it.   The demands of the British crown were less onerous than the demands of our present government.  They knew that, in time, our own government would grow in power; and with great power would come oppression.   They gave us the tools with which to stave off this oppression and the knowledge to use them.   I grew up believing in freedom and, because I was taught to look to myself first to see to my needs, I had some inkling what that meant.  And, I have seen our most cherished freedoms watered down to the degree some are ignored.  The children of today are not taught the value of freedom as we were, nor any of the relevance of our hard fought war of independence.   That failure to educate concerns me greatly.  We have been told our kind of freedom is overrated, that cradle-to-grave personal security takes precedence.  I disagree, and view personal security without the freedom to see to our own security a fool’s errand.  It is still possible to regain much of that freedom if enough are willing.   For that to happen, we need to educate (and re-educate) our people so that they too understand the value of freedom, and what it means to have and then lose it.

 

Additional readings:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/patrick-stephenson/what-is-freedom-anyway_b_5666154.html – how a liberal defines freedom; quickly devolves into a rant against conservatives.   The article never actual addresses what it means to be free as its title suggests.   I decided to not include this in my paragraph on how various people define freedom both because of the disrespect and failure to deliver.   I include it here only to show how some people abuse the opinions of others to no actual purpose.   The writer informs us he is a former speechwriter to a NATO secretary general.   I’d expect greater diplomacy from someone whose job is to build (not burn) bridges.   I can only assume he didn’t last at the job.

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