4 February, 2013
Like every coin worth having, individual sovereignty has a second side.
John Locke taught that:
The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of Nature for his rule.”
Reason and logic show, if natural liberty means being free from a ruler or government, then liberty requires a fundamental responsibility of the individual to secure and provide for himself. I would go this far, the less responsibility one takes for his life and its direction and the more one relies on government for personal safety, success, and happiness, the less liberty that man actually has.
Our founders were also very familiar with the concept of personal responsibility. When King George had finally disbanded one Colonial government too many, had finally taxed the colonies for the last time without their consent, had stirred up Indian Tribes against the colonists once too often, and any of the other twenty-seven complaints listed in the Declaration of Independence, the colonists said, “Enough!”
The founders acknowledged their responsibility with the closing sentence of the Declaration of Independence and by affixing their names to it:
“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
So, farmers, merchants, tradesmen, and citizens of every stripe quit their normal lives and formed a ragtag militia and then an army, and stood up to the most powerful military force of their time. Almost 30,000 colonists bore the ultimate cost of responsibility for our liberty; they died from battle, exposure, and disease.
Today, too many of our citizens eschew the responsibility that liberty requires. They behave promiscuously, and then sacrifice the consequence of their promiscuity. Men father children indiscriminately, and expect the government to feed, clothe, educate, and raise their offspring. Citizens enter into mortgage contracts without the means or the intent to honor their portion of the agreement. Labor Unions and anarchist students are not held accountable for the defacing, damage and destruction they cause when they occupy public parks, and buildings.
Worse yet, our elected officials – who unfortunately mirror the irresponsibility of their constituents – know the nation is spending too much money, yet they don’t have the moral fortitude to check that spending.
Our colonial forbears understood that liberty and freedom demanded that individual citizens secure their own persons and homes, work to achieve their own personal success, and teach those precepts to their children.
I pray it is not too late for us to relearn this truth!
That’s my nickle