Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Sunday, July 06, 2003


I hope everyone had a wonderful Independence weekend, I know I did. I watched fireworks bursting over the Chicago skyline from my back porch (I have an amazing view) Thursday through Saturday night and spent time celebrating with great friends. I thought about the meaning of our independence, how lucky I am that I have all these freedoms, which really are the exception, not the rule, in human history. Off the top of my head, I don't know how many millions of years man has been around, but I realize that a little over 200 years of liberty in the western world is a drop in the ocean. We are a part of the greatest experiment in human history, a time of unprecedented prosperity and standard of living. Thanks to the triumph of the concept of individual liberty.

Liberty is also a heavy burden and awesome responsibility, especially in America. If liberty dies here, it will die everywhere. There is nothing easy about liberty. As my former professor at Monmouth College, Michael Connell wrote to me,
"One of the most difficult things for anyone to do -- is to let other people lead their own lives and take actions that, according to your values are not in their best interest. Letting people live their lives and make their mistakes is tough for a parent and a teacher BUT IT IS THE ESSENCE OF LIBERTY. LIBERTY MEANS LOTS OF MISTAKES."

Yes. It's very easy to look around the world at all its problems, all its death, bloodshed and massacre and come away with the attitude of "Fuck democracy, fuck communism, all I want is a life and a girl." That captures the sentiment that nothing is worth fighting, dying and killing for, that it's best to just be content with the hand that life has dealt you. But that is the attitude that allows dictators to rise to power, that is what the Husseins, Hitlers, and Stalins of the world want. We are so very fortunate that our founding fathers recognized that independence was worth fighting (and dying) for.

Each one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were wealthy property owners often with high government positions, each had significantly more to lose by signing on to the revolution than not. One of those lesser known signers was Abraham Clark. He had two sons that fought for the revolution and were captured by British soldiers. Clark was offered a deal, his sons would be released if he would remove his signature from the Declaration of Independence. Knowing he had made a sacred vow with all of the signers to never remove their names, he refused. His sons were murdered. And today, we are free. July 4th should serve to remind us all what it took to achieve this freedom and what will be asked of us in the future to sustain it.


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