In theory all humans yearn for liberty. After all, is it not one of those “unalienable rights” that Mr. Jefferson wrote about? Indeed it is a “natural right”, a right each of us has, simply because we exist.
Natural rights are easy to define. They are that body of rights that we all have by virtue of our existence and that, in a proper world, can be enjoyed by every human, at no cost to his or her fellow humans.
And no government ever conceived can take away a person’s natural rights. Governments can obviously hinder our enjoyment of our natural rights but it can no more take them away than it can provide them in the first place.
So, I ask, if it is all that easy, why are so many humans limited in their ability to exercise their natural rights, in particular, their liberty? And, why do so many who have full exercise of their liberty give it up with so little resistance?
The answer is that they want to give it up. On initial consideration, this must seem like one huge contradiction… people yearn for liberty then they give it up willingly? I submit that this is exactly what usually happens. The more interesting question is why.
It is easy to think that liberty means a situation totally free of restraint. If you were the only person in the universe, this might be a reasonable definition. But the fact is that we are each one among billions, therefore restraint is required lest we intrude on the rights of others. The choice then is not whether liberty requires restraint but who or what will be the source of that restraint.
I submit that if one desires to fully enjoy one’s liberty despite the absolute requirement of restraint, then that restraint must be SELF IMPOSED. This means that each of us must use our rational thinking ability to understand the boundaries between our own rights and those of others and we must voluntarily respect those boundaries by not crossing them.
What happens when a few people choose to act without self restraint and without respect for the rights of others? Usually, government will exercise its power to restrain them through incarceration – or even by ending their lives.
Then what happens when acting without restraint or respect becomes widespread? Exactly what you see happening all around you this very moment… your fellow citizens will band together and DEMAND that government institute new laws restraining everyone’s liberty, including their own. In America, this has been going on from the very founding of the nation – indeed, the Founders warned us that this is exactly what would happen, because it seems to always happen. It is called trading liberty for a sense of security. And you can be sure that every form of government conceived by humans knows full well how to exploit this very human tendency to enlarge the power of its masters.
Is there an alternative? Yes, if we would only do it. The alternative is to truly educate our young, to teach them the processes of rational and critical thought, to teach them how to truly understand the universe they are part of, without resort to fear, magic or superstition. True, a little government-imposed restraint would still be required for the few but it would be the exception, not the rule.
Or, we can continue the cycle of bleeding for our liberty then frittering it away because we fail to comprehend how liberty actually works. After all, life is really nothing but a series of choices and only the wise can choose wisely.
Troy L Robinson