It’s election year. This means we are flooded with men and women declaring that they are the only ones capable of defending our RIGHT TO LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. We have all heard those famous words before; in fact, we toss them around like throwpillows on a couch. Their meaning seems easy enough to comprehend – we should all be free to live and do what we please. But is that really true? Our familiarity with the famous quote above can cause us to disregard it as easily as bathwater running down the drain. We use it for our purposes, but don’t really consider the cost of taking it for granted.
Of the three rights, Liberty is the most forgotten. Freedom and Liberty are twin sisters, but definitely not identical. Freedom is the state of being free, while liberty is the state of being you. While freedom is being physically free, liberty is the state of having a spirit released from bondage. It is being allowed to trust your own mind and ability to make decisions as an individual. A country that guards liberty has confidence in its citizens.
There is a fine line between having laws that safeguard liberty and having laws that infringe on liberty. There are certain things that a government must do: maintain a military to protect the country and its citizens; defend justice through an honorable legal system; punish criminals; issue taxes to provide for the maintenance of the country; manage imports and exports, as well as the utilities that service all of the citizens. These duties are clearly laid out in the Constititution. However, there are certain things that chisel away at liberty when the government assumes control of them. Consider the following:
-Education > this can be handled on a county-by-county level. Allow the parents and community members to determine the best way to educate their children. Why does the government know what is best for our children?
-Healthcare> private institutions are capable of creating successful systems for meeting needs. The more people that get involved increases the chances of dishonest gain. There are already examples of groups of people getting together to cut costs of healthcare and covering the needs of their members. If it’s been done once, it can be done again.
-Employment>Again, this can be solved on the state or county level. Allow communities to care for their own. When people are given responsibility for what most directly impacts them, they will rise to the occasion and do what needs to be done.
-Welfare>What I said above applies here as well. What happened to churches and community organizations getting together and helping the needy get back on their feet? Apathy sets in when people feel like there is nothing they can do. If success can only happen when people get involved, they will.
-Personal well-being> Since when does the government have the right to tell me the best way to care for myself? If my actions are not directly hurting someone else, if I want to be irresponsible with my health it is my decision. Some examples of government-meddling in personal well-being include seatbelts, contraceptives, and even smoking (businesses should be allowed to decide what happens in their own establishments).
The above list contains just a few examples of areas where the government has assumed the responsibilities of what capable citizens and states can handle on their own. If liberty is the allowance of an individual to think for himself, then an ever-growing government means the growing disappearance of liberty. Let us be reminded that those in government have been elected by the people, so if we place such confidence upon our elected officials we can place the same amount of confidence in the populace that put them there (on the other hand, that can be a scary thought).
LIFE, LIBERTY, PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. Liberty is the center link. We cannot have life or happiness without liberty. Liberty and big government cannot coexist.
Shelby, I finally got around to reading most of my mail. I totally agree with what you said about “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness”.