Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Freedom and Responsibility

Our nation gives much attention to questions involving the topics of individual rights and freedoms, and rightfully so.  We debate openly many of the issues related to these rights, as established in our Constitution: the freedom of speech; the freedom of the press; the right to bear arms, etc.  These rights, along with the essential principle stated in the Declaration of Independence “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, form the framework upon which our society is built.  And while the Declaration of Independence also informs us “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men”, our founders knew intimately well it was imperative that the individual American exhibit some level of self-governance in exercising these rights.

In short, the freedoms we cherish are intended for people who recognize they are responsible for their own actions and their own well-being.  A free but responsible person does not shoot a gun or drive a car in an irresponsible manner.  They have learned to associate freedom with responsibility.  But somehow things have gotten out of balance.  Why?  Because we want freedom, but we do not want to accept the responsibility which is inherently necessary to make a free society work!  America began as an independent nation, but we have increasingly become a nation of “dependents”, a people who believe the government is responsible for our personal welfare. The irony of this situation should not be lost on us, as it essentially breaks down to something like this: the more dependent on government we become, the less responsible we become, the more the government infringes upon our freedoms.

This mindset subsequently results in a nation whose populace lacks the moral fiber to be self-governing, which then results in a people who don’t have the wisdom or discernment to be responsible.  Read the average birth column in the local paper.  The one I just read shows 7 out of 10 babies born out of wedlock, most of whom will be relying on government assistance of one sort or another.  How in the name of common sense will we teach freedom and responsibility to these young people if all they ever know is dependency on a government which seems to value anything but personal responsibility?  Please do not misunderstand me!  I am not against helping those in need; on the contrary, it is certainly a Christian ideal to do so. I am merely stating that we must teach our young to be personally responsible for their lives, which is virtually impossible to convey if at the same time they are being taught they are “entitled” to government hand-outs.

When a people come to the point where freedom is disassociated from individual responsibility, then we ought not be surprised by the political trends and the national tragedies we have recently witnessed, and should realize they may be but a mere harbinger of things to come. 

Our forefathers plotted the initial course for this country to prosper, using Judeo-Christian precepts as a road map; but they fully anticipated the succeeding generations would recognize the need to be a “moral and religious people”, as John Adams put it, in order for the continued flourishing of this nation.  It would be wise for us to re-examine their example.
See ya Sunday!


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