I was speaking with a friend today about the way our society has lost appreciation for the role and responsibilities that a father and a mother have in raising the next generation within their own household. In that context, I mentioned something that I’ve known but never quite expressed. You probably know it already too, but I think it’s rather important, so I’ll try to articulate it here.
The special purpose of the United States in the world, as adopted by its founders, is to safeguard liberty — at least within our borders. That’s personal liberty, not the liberty of arbitrary groupings of people. Inasmuch as laws and regulations needed for our peaceful coexistence impinge upon our personal liberty, they are to be recognized as bad things. Let me emphasize that last part: bad things. Only their proven necessity can really justify their existence.
That’s how important liberty should be for Americans. The fact that many Americans would have no idea what I mean only underscores my main point, the simple insight I stumbled upon.
We also have this liberty: that we may be wrong, think wrongly, and say things that are wrong. Ideally, nobody can take that liberty away from me, because I am an American citizen. Unfortunately, there are quite a few people on both the Left and the Right who apparently want to take it away. Yet they, too, are at full liberty as citizens to be absolutely wrong. And I, of course, am at liberty to point out their error.
Why is the freedom to be wrong so important? Because it’s the same as the freedom to be right.
I know what is right, because I am instructed by the Word of God. Because I am an American citizen, I (should) have full freedom to think, to say, and to act in accordance with what is right. In this case, it’s freedom of religion, but it can apply to any matter of conscience. I am free to be right, because we are all free to be wrong. It’s the same freedom, because you may think I’m wrong. You can tell me why, but you can’t force me against the dictates of my conscience. The only possible exception to this arises with the laws or regulations proven absolutely necessary for our peaceful coexistence.
Unfortunately, some today are saying that full acceptance of immorality is required for peaceful coexistence in our land. That’s not true. Morality is a matter of conscience. Those who choose an immoral lifestyle have the freedom to be wrong, at least to the point where they demand participation in their immorality from their parents and superiors. (Parents and employers have the natural responsibility to enforce discipline according to their own morality. If you disagree, try using the first half of each day at work to call your long-distance relatives.) Likewise, those who choose a moral lifestyle for themselves have the freedom to be right, and to think, speak, and act accordingly — including criticism of those who are wrong.
The problem with all this is that there are some who disagree. They may do so. It’s America. However, there may be enough of them to change the laws and take away our freedom to be wrong (or right). It has already happened, to some extent. Though it be implemented by a majority, a word for the removal of freedom is tyranny. Tyranny is not an American virtue.
I thank God for blessing us with freedom through those who have given their lives and shed their blood for it. May we all appreciate this blessing, and understand that it comes at a price for every generation. We can pay for our freedom with vigilance and when necessary, with blood, or we can bow the neck and exchange our hard-earned freedom for the politician’s promise of security and peace.