[In this essay, I will be using the words liberty and freedom interchangeably]
I’d like to take a moment to talk to all of my fellow citizens about the freedom and liberty that we enjoy here in the United States of America. As a matter of fact, I’d also like to talk to those non-citizens that honor and humble us by going through the legal process of becoming a citizen. This talk is not aimed at those of you who’ve chosen to cross our borders illegally and live here actually believing you have the same status as those people who are going through the immigration process. Illegal aliens may or may not be very friendly, hard-working individuals. However, they are, as demonstrated by their very actions, people of low moral character and therefore are not worthy of being a part of this nation. They are, in fact, a slap in the face to all naturalized citizens; living and dead. I do not say that in anger or hatred. I believe that a good majority of those who are here illegally are acting to preserve their family and are drawn here by the organic liberty that only exists in the United States. It is of that liberty that I wish to talk to you tonight.
The US Brand
The U.S. “brand” of liberty is based on Natural Law. Natural Law states that every human being is born to this world with a basic set of human rights. These rights are bestowed on humans by nature and by nature’s God. The first thing we all need to remember is that not everyone believes there is a God. However, it is absolutely essential that everyone understand that our basic rights are given to us by a power beyond humans. It’s important because the first rule of liberty in the United States is that your rights were not given to you by people or governments…they are yours from birth. This distinction is IMPORTANT. If a person or government bestow rights upon you, you are a slave because it is in their power to remove your liberty whenever they please. In the United States, your rights cannot be taken away by any person or government because they were given to you by a higher authority. Our government, in its founding documents, is forced to recognize that higher authority and it is not allowed to infringe on our rights for any reason. ANY reason.
At our founding, our brand of liberty did not apply to all human beings living in the United States. Compromises were made to create our union of states. However, after taking 84 years to come to grips with our hypocrisy and after the deaths of hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters…that was corrected.
So what are these ‘basic’ human rights that have been bestowed upon us? To find that answer, one only needs to read the Declaration of Independence.
[…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness….]
So from that we learn that in the United States, our basic and unalienable (undisputed) rights are that of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But, that’s a pretty broad definition. However, we were all given a listing of our specific basic rights in the Constitution. They are known as the Bill of Rights and were added to the Constitution in 1791. Remember when you read this list that this list isn’t a list of our rights, its a list of what our government cannot stop us from doing:
- The government can’t shut us up, especially if we talk against it. (Freedom of speech).
- The media (books, magazines, newspapers, TV, radio, the internet) cannot be silenced. (Freedom of the press).
- We can practice any religion we choose or we can choose not to worship at all. (Freedom of religion)
- We have the right to appeal to our government to fix problems or change a policy. (Freedom to petition).
- We have the right to peacefully assemble with our fellow citizens. (The right of peaceful assembly).
- The right to keep and use firearms.
- You can’t be forced to let the military stay in your home except during war.
- The government or other citizens can’t just take our possessions or real property (land).
- We can’t be tried for the same offense over & over again until they finally get a conviction.
- We can’t be compelled to incriminate ourselves through a forced confession.
- No one may take our property without due process of law. Further, private property cannot be taken away for public use unless we’re fairly compensated.
- If accused of a crime, we have the right to a speedy, impartial trial.
- If accused of a crime, we must be told exactly what we’re being charged with and we have the right to an attorney to defend you.
- In most cases, we have the right to a trial by a jury of your peers.
- Excessive fines or bails or torture may not be imposed on someone accused or convicted of a crime..
- All other rights not specifically given to the federal government belong to the states and we, the people.
What Liberty IS
So, what is liberty? Let’s start with a concrete definition of what Liberty is in the United States specifically. Liberty is a contract with everyone else that says you are free to pursue your life without interference as long as you don’t infringe on the property or rights of others. In the rest of the world, there are differing types and levels, if you will, of freedom. On one end of the spectrum, there are totalitarian states like North Korea or Iran that tell their citizens what to think, do and say. On the other end are the free-er places of the world like Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand or Switzerland.
What Liberty ISN’T
Liberty is not a guarantee of anything except…well…Liberty. Freedom gives you a measure of control over your own life but no one EVER has complete control over their life. Liberty will not stop a bullet, hurricane, flood or cancer. Our brand of freedom allows you to pursue your happiness…it doesn’t guarantee it. It is this point that Progressives leave the room…Progressive theology seeks to guarantee that happiness by interjecting a disinterested third party into the lives and interactions of others. That isn’t liberty; that’s known as tyranny.
So…those are our basic liberties. But the freedom to live your life as you see fit is not without some responsibility. Liberty is not an excuse to obstruct another person’s liberty. It has been said many times that the freedom to swing your arms ends at the tip of another person’s nose. Keep out of my business and I’ll keep out of yours, essentially.
What Liberty Does to Individuals
What does the application of liberty do to the human spirit? Liberty frees the mind to accept as possible what other no-so-free-a people see as impossible. Liberty allows everyone in the United States to wake up every morning to a new day. No matter what is going on in our lives, we have the freedom to change it. Along with that comes the most powerful of all of the benefits of freedom: and that is the freedom to fail. It is the freedom to fail that allows the United States to be the most successful nation ever known on planet Earth. In Lenin’s Russia, failure was seen as sabotage, because Marxism is seen as a science and if you simply followed what the central planners told you to do, you would get the expected results. In a lot of cases, those ‘saboteurs’ were shot when the results didn’t materialize. This is why Marxism will always fail culturally and economically.
Liberty tells people “Yes” when others say, “No”. It allows & encourages people to get back up, dust themselves off and attack the problem from another angle. And, as is always the case, you eventually overcome your obstacle.
[Picture of Thomas Edison] Thomas Edison was interviewed by a reporter when his lab was working on an electric light bulb asking him if he felt like a failure and if he thought he should just give up by now. Edison replied, “Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.” And eventually, after over 10,000 attempts, [Picture of Edison’s light bulb] Edison and his team invented the light bulb. [Picture of Times Square at night] THAT is what liberty does to a person.
What Liberty Does to Culture
Liberty breeds respect among peers. Respect for the law and law enforcement is one example. With the exception of certain portions of Los Angeles and Detroit, we accept and respect our police and the judicial system. We respect them not because we fear them, but because we know they’re the agents we employ to “police” those times when liberty comes into contact with an imperfect world and imperfect people.
Liberty gives me the respect to do my job. My boss knows that I am not an indentured servant and I have the freedom to seek employment elsewhere. Now my ability to seek employment elsewhere hinges on my education, for the most part…and again…we’re given the freedom to learn or not to learn and that determines, to a large degree, our flexibility and economic success.
Liberty gives us the freedom to associate. I associate with the Tea Party and other conservative groups. You are free to associate with the Communist Party of America. So long as it doesn’t affect the freedoms I enjoy here in the United States, why should I care? I’m disappointed your a ignorant bastard, but it is of no consequence to me until you start interfering in my life.
[Picture of Sam Colt sign] Some say that a handgun is the great equalizer amongst people…and they’d be right. But liberty is a great equalizer as well. When we all enjoy the same basic rights as enumerated in the Bill of Rights, they can strip us of our money, title or celebrity and we still all have the same basic rights. [Picture of Michael Moore, Joy Behar, Chris whatshisname, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Maher & Sean Penn] This is why we have such a disdain for elitism in this country. It is said that every man puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else”. That is a cute way of saying that in the long run, it all comes down to all people being equal and endowed with the same rights regardless of where you are in the social pecking-order. And in the United States, we have a tendency to say, “F*** the social pecking-order!!”
Where liberty empowers a person to do great things and overcome much of what life throws at you, it has a profound affect on culture and society. Liberty binds people together. [Picture of towers rubble] Remember September 12th, 2001? What happened that day was the result of us waking up to the fact that was our liberty being threatened from an external enemy. And we INSTINCTIVELY knew our freedom was being threatened. Remember how all of our petty differences just melted away? Remember how we circled the wagons…all of us?
[Picture of Vietnam boat people] And now you know why people died to cross the Pacific Ocean from Vietnam to get here after the war.
[Picture of Elian Gonzalez] Now you understand why Elián Gonzalez’s mother died to get him away from Cuba. [Picture of gunman taking Elian Gonzalez] You also now know why Janet Reno should be in prison.
[Picture of people crossing Southern border] You now know why people are pouring across our border. Can you blame them when they see American Exceptionalism and they instinctively want to be a part it?
[American Exceptionalism] I’ve already demonstrated how liberty creates an explosion of creativity and success. By the nature of our origins and history, our particular flavor of freedom has created something no other country has or ever will have: American Exceptionalism. If you take a serious look at the history of the United States, you will discover a country that should have NEVER BEEN. Countless times we have been on the brink of destruction but for American determination and resilience; we’ve always come roaring back with even more success. We have been down in the past. We are down now. We will come roaring back because this is who we are. We are not perfect, but we are still the greatest nation on Earth by a large margin and by every measure.
Know Liberty and Know The Enemies of Liberty
So, learn to recognize liberty when you see it in your every day life and conversely, learn to see when someone is trying to infringe on your freedoms.
Humans are programmed with a basic desire to control other human beings. Those that believe in liberty have overcome that basic human instinct and are therefore, more evolved than Progressives. You must recognize liberty and fight for it whenever any person or government tries to take it away from you. I have a discovered a surprising number of conservatives that quote this line from the movie, Mr. Roberts:
“You, and you alone must recognize our enemies… …the forces of ambition, cruelty, arrogance and stupidity! You must recognize them. You must destroy them! You must tear them out as you would a malignant growth… …and cast them from the surface of the Earth!”
…and that is what I want you to walk away from this essay knowing: We’re not perfect, but there is no other country that can equal us in culture, personal & economic success and growth in the body of human knowledge. And this all stems from the brand of liberty we have created in the United States. We are what other countries want to be when (and IF) they grow up.