All this secession talk is making me giddy. I think it is mostly symbolic but does indicate the dissatisfaction that many Americans feel with the current state of governance and how similar that feeling is to the sentiments that led to the very founding of our country.
Time for some lazy re-posts because what we are going through today is really nothing new.
From January 29th of this year:
What is liberty? Why do so many people not understand its worth and how do we preserve that which so many seem not to value?
I’ve been reading a lot of John Locke recently. Mark Levin extensively examines Locke, Charles Montesquieu and Alexis de Tocqueville in his latest book, Ameritopia. Levin has inspired me to revisit these three men, two of which never saw post-Revolutionary War America yet these men were intimates of our county as if they were among the Founders.
Montesquieu died in 1755, Locke in 1704 but before they did, they contributed their DNA to our country in the form of the ideals that they developed and the influence that those ideals of freedom, liberty and law had on our Founding Fathers. These men knew America even before she was born.
Locke’s writings have inspired me to give good and proper consideration to liberty and how it is being stripped from us a little at a time. Our culture is so drunk with modernity and mind-numbingly drugged by the opiates of the relative ease and comforts of our sedentary lives that we hardly notice, or even seem to care, that we are suffering the equivalent of being flayed alive – having the very skin peeled from our bodies as we watch.
I ran across a quote from Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government, specifically in Chapter IV, Section 23:
This freedom from absolute, arbitrary power, is so necessary to, and closely joined with a man’s preservation, that he cannot part with it, but by what forfeits his preservation and life together: for a man, not having the power of his own life, cannot, by compact, or his own consent, enslave himself to any one, nor put himself under the absolute, arbitrary power of another, to take away his life, when he pleases. No body can give more power than he has himself; and he that cannot take away his own life, cannot give another power over it. Indeed, having by his fault forfeited his own life, by some act that deserves death; he, to whom he has forfeited it, may (when he has him in his power) delay to take it, and make use of him to his own service, and he does him no injury by it: for, whenever he finds the hardship of his slavery outweigh the value of his life, it is in his power, by resisting the will of his master, to draw on himself the death he desires.
In shorter form, Locke states:
- Man cannot exist without freedom from absolute and arbitrary power.
- No person can give more power than he has himself, nor can he assume the same over another.
In considering our modern condition, there are many who are either too lazy to even contemplate this condition, find such thought unnecessary or capricious, or simply are not intellectually curious enough to understand this fundamental requirement of liberty in America.
I find that simply astounding on the one hand and soul wrenchingly disappointing on the other.
Webster defines “liberty” as:
The quality or state of being free: a : the power to do as one pleases b : freedom from physical restraint c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic control d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges e : the power of choice.
Locke proposed that liberty was an individual concept and that only the individual could allow his liberty to be taken from him. He believed that this was the necessary condition for freedom.
Most of the “progressive” attacks on liberty are Hobbesian (Thomas Hobbes, 1588 – 1679) in nature. Hobbes believed that man behaved as an animal and he always reverted to his animal pedigree. As such, he must be governed be fear and force as peaceful relationships do not come naturally and must be forced.
A few simple examples indicate how far we have come and how much more the learned men of over 300 years ago understood about being free than we do today.
Gun laws: Whether or not you agree that the Second Amendment defines a constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms, what is inarguable is that the restriction of ownership, possession or use of a firearm by a law-abiding citizen is an erosion of liberty.
By what right does a governmental authority presume to prevent the ownership of a method of security? Gun control advocates propose that by withholding firearms from all citizens will stop crime but the root of the argument is not that they want to reduce crime; it is that they simply do not trust the individual to be reasonable or intelligent enough to use the weapon appropriately. A restriction of such is a passive reduction of liberty – a choice taken from me, a law abiding and rational person.
A recent example of an active variety of the destruction of liberty is the Obama administration declaration that under ObamaCare, all health care providers, including Catholic hospitals, must provide sterilization, abortifacients and contraception methodologies/services.
The nation’s Catholic bishops called “literally unconscionable” a decision by the Obama Administration to continue to demand that sterilization, abortifacients and contraception be included in virtually all health plans.
On Friday, the Obama Administration issued a statement re-iterating the “contraceptive mandate” requiring all insurance providers cover the full range of FDA-approved drugs and devices would remain intact.
This mandate, issued in August, includes drugs that work after conception to destroy life rather than prevent it. The statement included a postponement of one year for religious groups that do not already carry contraceptives and additionally would not be exempted under last year’s narrow definition of “religious employer.”
The bishops condemned the narrow religious exemption saying it will not be expanded but only allow for a one-year delay by religious employers are forced to comply.
Forcing the Catholic Church to act against their beliefs has the same chilling effect as denying them a choice.
Many years ago, I was charged with the responsibility to effect a turnaround at a business that had been beaten down by competition and ineffective management. The people were so used to losing and so used to the beatings that they took from senior corporate leaders that they forgot how to compete and win and they lost hope. There was a vicious downward spiral established, the more the business failed, the tighter the corporate leaders tightened the noose and the more freedom the remote location lost. The more mistakes that they made, the fewer and fewer decisions they were allowed to make leading to less and less control they had over their own destiny.
I worked with the site leaders for several months to understand the issues with this process and found that even though they knew what to do and were fully capable of doing it, they had become as defeated as a dog that has been beaten on a regular basis – a dog like that will recoil from an outstretched hand because the first thought the dog has is that the hand is going to strike, not to pet and comfort. People, subjected to negative stimuli, will exhibit the same behavior.
The following presentation is part of a meeting that I held with the local leadership teams, all the way down to the line supervisors and the team leads – it was also shared with all of the employees after I was sure that the managers understood.
The basics of what I told them were these:
- We must drive a stake in the ground to start the turnaround
- I can unlock and open the cell door but I can’t force you to walk through
– We need to accept the freedom to change and we have to stop pulling the unlocked cell door closed on ourselves
- History can’t be changed – but the future can
- I’m asking for your commitment to help make the needed changes
Government is similar to that business, as the corporate office stripped as much liberty from the remote site as they would let them take, so government will strip the citizens of it. In the business, it only stopped when 1) I had convinced the local team that they could win and should have the confidence of their convictions and experience and 2) I called corporate and told them to back off and allow my team to run the business.
The business has now enjoyed three very successful years under some very difficult conditions and is determining its own future.
I have stated before that with every law passed, with every regulation promulgated, a little liberty dies, that we are, in fact, building a prison of our own design…but we can stop it if we choose. It isn’t completed.