What Has Happened To The Spirit of Liberty?

I find it interesting that people of like minds often find themselves thinking similar thoughts at the same time – even though they may be separated by thousands of miles. Last night before I retired to bed the idea for this article came to mind, and I typed the title into an empty Word document and saved it, intending to flesh it out in the morning.

Then this morning I followed my typical routine of powering up the computer and grabbing some much needed coffee to clear the cobwebs and get the brain synapses firing. As I was scrolling through the comments and messages that had accumulated on Facebook while I slept, I encountered this, from my friend and mentor, Michael Gaddy:

The primary function of government is what? Jobs? The economy? Healthcare? More free stuff? More wars that profit only those in the Deep State? Public Education?

None of the above! The wisdom of Patrick Henry!!!

“You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your Government.”

I live behind enemy lines in the socialist stronghold of California, and Mr. Gaddy lives in Arkansas where there still remains more folks who crave a government that simply leaves people be to live their lives as they please – which is basically what liberty means. Although we live almost 2,000 miles apart, our brains were on the same wavelength, something that I have seen happen on multiple occasions.

I just thought I’d share that with you so that you would not think that I am the only rabble rouser who is attempting to rattle your cage and get you to think beyond your limited vision of why your government exists.

I often hear people interchange the words liberty and freedom as if they mean the same thing – they don’t! I don’t want to make this article about slavery, but when the slaves were freed by the 13th Amendment they were considered to be free, but did they enjoy liberty? Sure they weren’t in physical bondage anymore, but in most cases they did not enjoy the same rights as did the other people living in this country – so they did not have liberty.

What I’m trying to say is that freedom is being free from something, while liberty is being free to do something without anyone attempting to hinder or restrict your actions. Jefferson describes liberty as follows, “…rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will, within the limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.” Now there is a distinction there that I think many fail to recognize. Jefferson does not say that liberty is what society deems acceptable; it is the right to do whatever you want so long as it does not prevent others from doing the same.

My thoughts, my speech belong to me; my brain creates the thoughts that are expressed either by my voice or by my fingers as they move across the keyboard – they are my property. In 1792 James Madison published an essay in the National Gazette discussing property. In his essay Madison states, “This term in its particular application means “that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual.”

In its larger and juster meaning, it embraces every thing to which a man may attach a value and have a right; and which leaves to every one else the like advantage.

In the former sense, a man’s land, or merchandize, or money is called his property.

In the latter sense, a man has property in his opinions and the free communication of them.” (My emphasis)

So in regards to my thoughts and my ability to express them, true liberty means that I am free to express my thoughts and opinions so long as I do not bring harm to another, (libel or slander), or I do not prevent anyone else from expressing their thoughts and opinions. How my thoughts make you feel are irrelevant. If what I say angers or offends you…tough, get over it; if you truly loved or even understood liberty, you would rather die defending a person’s right to be obnoxious and offensive than you would attempt to silence a voice you disagree with.

But liberty is much more than a person’s right to freely express their opinions. Liberty entails the whole human existence; our ability to do whatever we want so long as it does not bring harm to others or prevent them from enjoying the same rights.

In the book Atlas Shrugged the character John Galt explains his personal philosophy with the following, “I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” While that may not be inclusive of all that liberty entails, it certainly is a huge part of it.

Let’s say there are but two people living on the entire planet. One is resourceful and industrious and the other lazy and slothful. If the person who works hard to provide for himself is required to provide an existence for the other, can he be said to be free to fully enjoy the fruits of his labors – to have liberty?

Liberty is so closely tied to individualism that the two cannot be separated without enslaving all of us. If what I am allowed to say is limited or restricted by society because others find it offensive, then I do not have liberty. If I cannot work, and enjoy every penny I earn without it being taxed and spent on programs I believe to be unconstitutional, or handed out to others in the form of social service benefits, then I do not have liberty. If I cannot chose an alternative form of treatment for illness or disease because some government agency has deemed that treatment unsafe, or illegal to consume, then I do not have liberty.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

The former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt once made an astute statement regarding freedom; she said, “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.”

Another Roosevelt, this time Theodore, also wrote, “If an American is to amount to anything he must rely upon himself, and not upon the State; he must take pride in his own work, instead of sitting idle to envy the luck of others. He must face life with resolute courage, win victory if he can, and accept defeat if he must, without seeking to place on his fellow man a responsibility which is not theirs.”

When the Pilgrims first came here they realized two things. First they knew that they would, maybe for the first time in their lives, enjoy true liberty – the ability to pretty much do as they please without anyone attempting to restrict them. They also knew that their very survival depended rested upon their own shoulders; there was no safety net, no social service programs to fall back upon should they fail.

That is the spirit that made America great; the knowledge that each of us is free to seek success and a life free from outside interference. Government, no matter how well intentioned it may be, seeks to exert control over the governed. It has always been so, and always will be that way. Therefore, if one loves liberty, then it is logical that one should seek to keep government as small and as limited as humanly possible.

I don’t see that today. I see a people who bow at the altar of big government; a government that they rely upon to do much of which is actually their responsibility. How many people rely upon some governmental agency for their sustenance, for their education, for their health care, for their children’s college education, for their protection?

If your first thought when someone breaks into your home is to pick up a phone and dial 911, then you do not truly understand what liberty means. Your home is your property; therefore it is your responsibility, your DUTY to defend it. If you believe that it is government’s job to provide a police force that is at your beck and call every time you or your property is in danger, then you are dependent upon government for that aspect of your live, and you ARE NOT free.

If you rely upon government to keep you safe, to provide an existence to you; or if you believe that it is the job of government to provide these things to others, then you do not honor the men, and the sacrifices they made, to create a nation based upon the principle of liberty. Thomas Paine once said that it was the duty of every patriot to defend their country from their government, or something similar to that.

Using that as a definition, can you honestly call yourself a patriot when every time there is a crisis you go crying to government to enact some law to fix it – especially when 9 times out of 10 the crisis arose from too much government intervention into society in the first place? That’s like pouring gasoline onto a fire hoping to put it out…it only makes matters worse.

Look at the foreign policy of this country; intervention after intervention in the affairs of other countries creates these monsters that the U.S. then has to deal with; usually meaning we have to send our military forces to put down. We created the hostility between Iran and the U.S. when the CIA, along with British Intelligence, orchestrated a coup which overthrew the democratically elected Prime Minister back in the 50’s. We created Saddam Hussein when we helped prop him up and give him weapons and intelligence when he fought his war against Iran. We propped up and supported Osama Bin Laden when he was fighting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Before becoming our 6th President, John Quincy Adams, (son of President and Founder John Adams), served as Secretary of State under President James Monroe. While serving in that capacity he delivered an address to the House of Representatives on the anniversary of America declaring her independence from Great Britain. I would like for you to read a segment of that speech:

“America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity. She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights. She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. … But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

Does that even remotely sound like our current foreign policy? We currently have close to 200,000 military personnel deployed abroad, stationed at around 800 military bases in almost 80 different countries. That is just our military, who knows what covert operations the CIA is undertaking to destabilize the governments of countries which are unfriendly towards us, or the business interests of those who lobby Congress and fund Congressional re-election coffers.

Smedley Butler was, at the time of his death in 1940, the highest ranking and most highly decorated United State Marine. Yet Butler had this to say about his own military career, “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

I don’t want to make this about our foreign policy any more than I wanted to make it about slavery earlier, so let me just say that MOST of the problems this country faces are due to the overall ignorance of the American people as to why their government exists. Whether it be for their misguided understanding of what national security is, or whether it be due to their misunderstanding of what is meant by the term ‘general welfare’, most people think government exist to do things for them.

WRONG!!!

Patrick Henry, whose words inspired his fellow Virginians to join the cause of independence on that fateful day in 1775, said the following when arguing against the ratification of the proposed constitution, “You are not to inquire how your trade may be increased, nor how you are to become a great and powerful people, but how your liberties can be secured; for liberty ought to be the direct end of your Government.”

Liberty dammit, not how your government might create jobs, keep you safe, provide you with benefits…L I B E R T Y!!!

And as much as I dislike James Wilson for his other beliefs, he did get this right when he said, “Government … should be formed to secure and enlarge the exercise of the natural rights of its members; and every government which has no this in view as its principle object is not a government of the legitimate kind.”

Therefore, if this thing you call the federal government passes laws telling you the extent to which you can enjoy your liberty – exercise your natural rights, and if it seeks to tell the States how they can conduct their own internal affairs, then how can you say that it is enlarging ‘…the exercise of the natural rights of its members…’? And therefore, if government is NOT doing that, it means that your government is NOT legitimate, that it is destructive of the ends for which it was instituted, that it ‘…evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government…’ (Source: Declaration of Independence)

And if that is the case, then what remedy does Jefferson say is our duty; not an option, but OUR DUTY? Well, let’s see, “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

Jefferson did not say that we should send letters to government asking it to stop doing these things; he did not say we should make banners and take to the streets in protest; he did not say we should vote for a better quality of candidate; he said we should, “… throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

In 1944 Judge Billings Learned Hand delivered a speech in which he said, “I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.”

Liberty is not found on the shelves of your local WalMart; it is not found online at Amazon; it is not found at the voting booths; and it does not show up as a guest speaker at some protest rally. Liberty lies in the breast of each of us, and it is our DUTY to defend it from all those who would deprive us of it; from society in general to our government.

So, if you love liberty, what the hell are you waiting for? You can either go on as you have been, voting for one loser after another, while you watch your liberty diminish even more, or you can do as our Founders did; you can find the courage to stand up to those who seek to oppress you. It’s your call, but I think you know what side of the fence I’ll be on.

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