According to our Declaration of Independence, Constitution’s Preamble, Statue of Liberty and many other icons of our history, Liberty is in the bones of our great country. In fact, as accurately stated by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address, our great nation literally was “conceived in Liberty.” So this is not some marginal or philosophical issue, it is the foundation for our country. But do we actually care today? Is it still really important to us? If so, do we stand up and protect it when we vote, or when in our daily lives we see people with ostensible authority over us or others overstep their bounds? Or do we meekly surrender our Liberty because of yet another restriction thrust upon us at airports by the TSA, or our rights to Free Speech because it might “hurt the feelings” of the listeners, or in our right often simply to be left alone by government and other people?
Let each one of us resolve right now – today – to make Liberty a big part of who we are and how we act. As citizens of this great country we certainly have many rights that are deprived to many people of other countries. But we also have responsibilities. What are those? To vote, to serve on juries when called upon and also to pay our taxes. (Yes, as a Libertarian I believe taxes are much too high, but that is an issue for a different column.) But we also have a responsibility to “make the system work!” That means, among other things, we should step up as individuals when we see that government or other entities are depriving Liberty either to us or to others who are not able to stand up for themselves. Benjamin Franklin famously said that any people who would compromise a little Liberty for a little more security deserve neither. With today’s threats of terrorism directly resulting in increased government surveillance and intrusion, as well as so-called “Freedom From Speech” zones, these are also the “times that try men’s souls.” How will historians write about how we stood up for the Liberty that is our heritage? The Founders of our Great Country, and our descendents, are counting on us!
Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President,
along with Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President
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