Still Capable of Freedom?
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” –Benjamin Franklin
Mitt Romney’s “gaffe” over the 47% of the population who won’t respond to his message of responsible adult living is an excellent opportunity to get America’s best thinkers working on that very problem: how to excite the sensibilities of those who have traded their freedom for security? Better yet, as this election is a profound opportunity to restore essential liberty, rule of law, principled leadership and limited government, how to persuade our countrymen of their noble birthright?
A phrase in Cleon Skousen’s book, The Five Thousand Year Leap, intrigues me: “sufficient public virtue.” One of the greatest concerns, not only to the founders, but to the general public of that day – once they recognized the difficulty of self-government – was to answer the question: Are we moral and educated enough to make self-rule work? What is the connection between them? Most importantly, how do We The People demonstrate “sufficient public virtue?” “Self-government was generally known as ‘republicanism’, and it was universally acknowledged that a corrupt and selfish people could never make republicanism operate successfully.” (Ibid)
The American public, divided to the core, is being asked to decide on an issue of faith: Do we believe in the fundamental principles of freedom or do we believe we are not capable of ruling ourselves? Do we trust in a God who created us with reason capable of discerning right from wrong or are we simply the products of time & chance that need to be herded into collectives, i.e, “special interest groups”, easily controlled for our own good? Do we believe in a salvation that inures to the consequences of bad behavior or in a salvation that uses the consequences to teach us a better way?
Faith as defined by an authority on the subject, the writer of the book of Hebrews is: “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Substance and Evidence.
The promise of principles is that they are universal and “endowed” by our Creator. Belief in them does not affect whether they exist or not, only on whether we enjoy their benefit by ordering our lives upon their existence. Principles such as Rule of Law, The Sacredness of Right to Property, Life & Liberty, That All Men Are Created Equal, That People Are Endowed With Reason and Are Capable of Ruling Themselves have substance in providing a firm foundation for individual freedom.
Just as Gravity defied is ruin to the defier, so too Principle defied is ruin to a nation.
Defiers have lured too large a portion of our countrymen away from principled behavior wherein they accept arguments alien and corrupting to our foundation. The debate, for example, over the “fairness” of redistribution of property is not an honest debate and is leading to ruin in the soul of our nation by diverting our most precious resource, “human capital,” away from constructive activity: using time, talent and property to do good. From those of the 47% who are capable and able-bodied it steals away hope, incentive, and the duty to improve their most fundamental property – themselves – in order to provide goods and/or services that have value to others. To the productive it erodes confidence in the proper role of government: to protect the right to enjoy the fruit of one’s own labor.
The allure of redistribution, collectivism, social justice, “fairness,” socialism, communism or whatever label is attached is in the popular attraction of the current advocate. It is always based on the assumption that people are willing to trade their personal responsibility for a few bread crumbs of security. And as long as everyone is required to eat the same bread crumbs, the darkest part of our nature is satisfied. The less people are committed to truth, virtue, moral fidelity, and righteousness the less capable they are of hearing words that resonate those qualities and the more easily won over by the fickle and fashionable. It is always good to be reminded that socialism was nearly the ruin of our country from its tender beginnings. The colonies only flourished when they realized that self-interest in private property raises the quality of life for the entire community by releasing the productive power of personal responsibility and self-rule!
The Presidential election of 2012 is a defining moment in American history, most of us on each side of the political aisle agree. Let us be instructed by history, let us consider the events leading up to War for Independence as identified by Mr. Skousen:
- the public had an instinctive thirst for independence but there remained a haunting fear that they might not be “good enough” to make it work.
- today we share that fear that we might no longer have the moral capacity for self-rule; nor the trust in God to believe in the principles of liberty. As an Arizona farmer soberly remarked about the devastating drought and the need to pray for rain as the only solution: “I don’t know if Americans pray much anymore…”
- their doubts gradually diminished as their patriotic indignation was aroused by the harsh and sometimes brutal policies of the British crown.
- we need no more evidence of the patriotic indignation aroused by years of ruinous progressive policies than in the fervor of the Tea Party.
- they were also moved by the powerful expressions of faith and confidence pouring forth from men of “admired virtue” such as John Adams, George Washington, Richard Henry Lee and Josiah Quincy.
- who among lovers of essential liberty were not moved by the confidence and inspiration of Ronald Reagan? As one author observed: If you want to love righteousness, love a righteous man! Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, by all accounts, are virtuous men. May God stir them to deliver powerful words that inspire confidence in their leadership and commitment to repair our country’s foundation!
- Many Americans became extremely self-conscious about their lack of “public virtue” because or their lack of involvement in the affairs of government. They began to acknowledge their obsession with self-interest, the neglect of public affairs, and their disdain for the needs of the community as a whole.
- Truly many Americans are awakening to the truth of Plato’s words: “The price of apathy in public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” The response to the ‘fundamental transformation’ of America must start with repentance to our Maker for indifference to our stewardship of this Shining City on a Hill. Then we must re-educate ourselves in the principles of liberty and be willing to pledge our lives, fortunes, our sacred honor for their survival.
- Gradually a spirit of ‘sacrifice and reform’ became manifest in all thirteen colonies; a period marked by a time of great self-denial and cohesion, when men ceased to extort and abuse one another, when families and communities seemed peculiarly united, when the courts were wonderfully free from that constant bickering over land and credit that had dominated their colonial life.
- God grant us like repentance that leads to truth and freedom!
May we return to a united America committed to each person taking responsibility for themselves to leave this place better than we found it!
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