In June, I began a three part series on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness - Titling my first in the series simply "LIFE".
To continue the discussion, a topic that is frequented on this blog, let us discuss LIBERTY.
As I began the last topic, I made a special not that Life was listed as the first inalienable right in the Declaration of Independence - and in the order of three it should be similarly noted that Liberty is the second of the three rights specifically mentioned (though it should also be reminded that man is not limited to these three rights, these three were simply worthy of special attention in the founding document). Once the Right of Life has been established, it is most important to identify that this most precious gift is free from fear, free from external rule, and free to use it's abilities, thoughts, and ambitions.
Where life is the most precious gift from Our Father, Liberty is the promise between men to respect the life of our fellow man - a task that requires self restraint, self control, and personal responsibility - all moral compasses provided through devotion to Higher Standards in Faith. Life is breathed into our beings as a promise - the simplest of promises, unrestrained by man - which may be why it is not protected beyond being listed as an inalienable right... however, Liberty - the promise between men - is fully defined in the Contract of our Government, the Constitution.
After the creation of the Government, the first duty was to amend the constitution to purposefully limit the ability of the government to impede personal liberty, and to also define the concept of liberty which would become our law. The Bill of Rights begins by restricting the ability of the government to make laws restricting free practice of religion, speech, press, and peaceful protest. The first amendment is the most widely referenced and most widely known protection of rights - and unfortunately the general knowledge of protected rights stops there.
Regardless of the knowledge of the remaining first rights, it is most important to understand the INTENT of the bill of rights - to limit the power of the government in regards to controlling the lives of the citizens of this nation. It was never the intent of the Federal Government to act as a business entity, to act as an Education entity, or to act as a Healthcare Provider. Based on the principles of liberty, it is the personal responsibility of the free citizen to educate himself, to work and consume within his own abilities, and to maintain his health on his own or with the help of his own doctor, who is equally free to supply a service or not.
The remaining rights outline the freedom of self protection for the better protection of the state, the protection of personal property from the government, the protection of the self against the government, the basis for legal proceedings, and my two favorite amendments - 9th and 10th: the explicit establishment of personal Liberty, and the explicit limit of Governmental jurisdiction.
Amendment 9: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
Literally meaning that a right not listed in the Constitution does not mean that it does not exist (like the right to life). This is a searing reminder that the constitution limits GOVERNMENTS powers - NOT the PEOPLES powers.
Amendment 10: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
The sweet sound of liberty - so poetic in principle.
But, I ask, what role does liberty play in our daily lives? Where has liberty gone off to at the federal level - or even at the state and local level for that matter?
Since the dawning of civilization, man has dreamed of liberty, only to find that society restricts liberty. The concept of society begs for leaders, which turn into rulers. So is the case in this country. We began with leaders, and often times find ourselves the subjects under rulers. We are subject to laws restraining liberty in every aspect of our lives - transportation, entertainment, work, food, clothes... everything is regulated, everything is limited... we have liberty under constraints - which is not liberty at all.
There is an old saying - the less influence God has on you, the more influence the Government needs to have on you... literally: if you cannot control yourself in a civil society, we will do it for you!
Liberty is an ideal, burning in the hearts of men who wish to be free from excesses in life and government... however, we are subject to the society in which we live - where equal men choose to be ruled rather than take personal ownership of their liberty, and thus surrender that of their fellow man - or likewise, demand ownership of the fruits of their fellow man.