The Moral Cause of Freedom

“A people contending for life and liberty are seldom disposed to look with a favorable eye upon either men or measures whose passions, interests or consequences will clash with those inestimable objects.”    — George Washington, letter to General Thomas, 7/23/1775

I’d like to pick up from the preceding post, which included an excerpt from Senator Jim DeMint’s book Saving Freedom: We Can Stop America’s Slide into Socialism. DeMint was discussing how we as citizens, consciously or not, tend to make government our master. Our more immediate and personal concerns often blind us to past, questionable results of giving the government more control over various areas of our lives.

DeMint continues…

“The pursuit of freedom is in many ways a moral cause that attempts to elevate individuals to a place where they can make their own decisions based on their personal value system. Yet despite endless calls for liberty, the conflict of the ages continues to wage between those who would use force to control others and those who are willing to fight for the freedom to control their own lives.

circus performer balancing on highwireThe dilemma for democratic governments is how to balance the use of force with the requirements of freedom. Civilization by its definition must restrain the destructive tendencies of mankind in order for people to live together in peace and constructive interaction. Governments must have laws and the ability to enforce them. Without some control there will be chaos, and there is no freedom in chaos.”

The Patriot Act would be a current and prime example of this balancing act.

“The ironic political question has always been: how much societal control is necessary for freedom to thrive, and at what point does control by government destroy freedom? If this were the primary point of contention in political debates, all governments would be moving to find the optimum balance between freedom and control. Unfortunately, from ancient civilizations to the present, many leaders and governments have denied the societal benefits and moral calling of freedom. Freedom is a threat to power and control. Those who seek power (even to do ‘good’) must solidify their control by restricting freedom.

‘God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it.’
— Daniel Webster”

So, on the one end you have fascist dictators who control everything in their dominion. On the other end, anarchists. In between, there is quite a range of “approaches” to government/society. Here in the U.S., the major contingents range from pure Libertarians on the Right, through a spectrum of “conservatives” and “liberals”, and Progressives on the Left. As one moves further to the political left, it seems that the concept of freedom moves from freedom of (speech, religion, assembly, etc.) and freedom to (do for ourselves and as we like) to freedom from (“worry” or responsibility or religion, for that matter). After all, the more the government is in control of our lives, the less we have to think for ourselves or make moral or practical decisions. Ironically, as a society goes more & more leftward, those “freedoms” become more & more dependent upon following the regulations and restrictions determined by the whims (and personal benefit) of those in control. Eventually, one way or another, they own you. That is a moral crime.

On a final note, I’m not sure I wholly agree with Webster’s quote. I need to think about it some more. What do you think?


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