Freedom and liberty are bedrock values, principles if you will, of mankind. These bedrock values transcend ideology, political parties, and provide the basis for civil society. Samuel Adams, perhaps the original founder of the Tea Party and American Revolution, founder of the Sons of Liberty, said “Among the natural rights of the Colonists”… “are these: First a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly to property.”
In June 1776, George Mason, the man whom Thomas Jefferson regarded as “the wisest man of his generation”, penned the Virginia Declaration of Rights which became the basis for the Bill of Rights and the opening paragraphs in the Declaration of Independence. Mason’s first section said “That all men are by nature equally free and independent with and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter in to a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity, namely the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”
In the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson penned: “that all men are created equal with certain unalienable Rights; among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”. The Declaration, announced to Britain and the world, that the colonies were free and independent states. In the last paragraph Jefferson said “That these United Colonies are, and of Right out to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and do all the other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.”
In current times, arguments are posited by some to diminish, even eliminate, freedom and liberty as bedrock values which formulated the basis for our country’s founding and purpose. Regardless of political sentiments and beliefs; regardless of belief in a Higher Authority or not; mankind thirsts to be free of oppression and tyranny by other men. Philosophically, one either believes that man has certain unalienable Rights that pre-date government and exist in a state of nature, or one believes that rights are conferred upon man by Government.
To some this philosophical difference is muted by personal ambition and avarice. Yet to others, this philosophical difference is either misconstrued or simply misunderstood. While others recognize the difference is the single foundational element essential to the survival of mankind. To possess certain transcendent Rights that cannot be conferred or denied by other men simply recognizes individuals have in their possession the most sacred, most cherished gift; to live their lives freely, to be secure in their exercise of personal and economic liberty, and to the possessions a man creates by his own industry.
These bedrock values keep mankind free of oppression and tyranny from government and others in civil society. Those that believe government confers Rights of life and liberty to man implicitly acknowledge that government can also abridge and deny man the same Rights. Once man is persuaded that government is the Highest Authority in life, man succumbs to the wishes and desires, for better or worse, of rulers. Throughout the history of mankind rulers — in any form — believe they possess power and can exercise dominion over another man’s life and liberty, become oppressors and tyrants thus subjugating man to government.
Our society will fail if the people don’t recognize the subjugation of man to government. The loss of life, liberty, and property rights corresponds directly with the increase of government dominion over man. The country is at a crossroads, a precipice if you will. Individuals must decide whether life and liberty are values they cherish and wish to defend or whether we as a society will succumb to government rulers.
As I opened with Samuel Adams, I will close with my favorite Sam Adams quote : “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!”
This Fourth of July, I am grateful for the unalienable Rights I possess, though I recognize government has and continues to try to abridge and deny me those Rights. I am grateful to those resolute men with stout hearts for the opportunity to live freely and enjoy the blessings of liberty.