Tag Archives: liberty

CIVICS LESSON #6 CITIZENS MUST PROTECT THEIR FREEDOM AND RIGHTS

Image courtesy of tungphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of tungphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is the sixth edition of FJ Rocca‘s series, Civics Lessons.

The saying “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” is a stirring reminder that we must always be alert to threats against our freedom. Those threats rarely come from outside the nation. They almost always come from our own government. Therefore, to protect ones liberty, one needs to protect it from government. That is why the US Constitution was drafted as it was, to protect the liberty and rights of The People, not as a collective mass, but as individual American citizens, each and every one of whom has his or her rights guaranteed independently by our founding documents. Please note that there are no other groups specified as having rights in the Constitution or Bill or Rights.

Liberty is not fragile, because, once people experience true freedom they refuse to give it up. But freedom can be stolen from us if we don’t pay attention to what government is doing, what laws it is passing, how competently or incompetently it is handling such vital factors as the economy and defense. Thus, the first duty of every citizen is to guard against this theft by exercising “eternal vigilance” about what politicians do and say.

Think of freedom as a piece of woven cloth. The cloth is very strong, but the threads from which it is woven are each fragile. Therefore, the enemies of freedom never try to tear the cloth, only to cut the threads gradually, stealing individual freedom and rights by cutting the threads one-by-one until the cloth falls in tatters. The cloth is our nation; the threads are the laws that keep our freedom and rights secure.

Defending freedom against its enemies can be a tricky proposition, because it is often difficult to identify those enemies. They often disguise themselves as protectors of freedom, while modifying the laws that guarantee it until those laws are repealed or made ineffective. But it is unwise to put the fox in charge of protecting the hen house. Politicians often are the enemies within and they are far more dangerous than those who would attack us from the outside, because they will lie cleverly to hide their real intentions. This lying is the first danger against which we must be eternally vigilant, and the greatest liars are almost always the politicians and those who work with them.

These enemies of liberty usually begin by describing grievances that they insist must be addressed. These grievances are always claimed in the interest not of individuals, but of collective groups. Most often these grievances are invented as excuses to pass laws that give government more power and a bigger budget. Political power is always power over people. Politicians are not entitled to power over us. They are elected ONLY to protect our unalienable rights, not to steal them.

To protect ourselves, we must continually remember that our freedom and rights as individuals are not granted by government and must never come into question, no matter what grievance politicians claim they must address. We must always remember that when politicians seek to limit individual rights in favor of some group, they are not really interested in righting wrongs, but merely in gaining more power for themselves.

It is a fundamental principle of free society that each individual citizen’s rights are unalienable. This means that the assertion of collective rights that infringe on the rights of individual liberty, those rights are not legitimate and laws purporting to protect them are equally illegitimate. It is easy to misinterpret this concept, but an example may clarify it. When Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, he did so to free the slaves, not as a collective mass that needed protection, but as individual citizens, each with his own unalienable rights. That is the true meaning of freedom.

Corrupting society’s understanding of rights always comes gradually, so that people do not immediately realize the full negative impact on freedom. Norman Thomas, six times the Presidential candidate of the Socialist Party of America, once stated, “The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of ‘liberalism,’ they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”

This is why politicians always introduce their proposed changes stealthily in language that is unclear and ambiguous. Some changes are introduced as benefits at first, and only after they take effect are found to be dangerous liabilities. The obligation of every citizen is to guard and protect our unalienable individual rights by refusing to accept “collective rights.” Any changes that lead us away from our free republic into a liberal socialist oligarchy or dictatorship should be shouted down loudly and those who try to destroy the fabric of our freedom should be driven from office by the most powerful tool of every eligible citizen, the vote at the ballot box.

Every American citizen over eighteen is qualified to vote to elect politicians into office. There are exceptions to this rule, such as when someone is incarcerated for committing crimes. Politicians are elected to office to represent the best interests of citizens in legislatures that make laws either supporting or abrogating the freedom and rights of every individual citizen. But we do not vote for laws. We vote for people to make the laws. Therefore, it is the duty of every qualified citizen to vote wisely and to remember that a bad politician will make bad policies, the worst of which can take away their freedom and rights. We must remember that political power is power OVER people. Citizens must elect politicians who will protect their rights and freedom and not elect those who would take them away.

FJ Rocca is an independent, conservative writer/blogger of fiction and non-fiction, most interested in the philosophy of American conservatism. Clarity is more important than eloquence, but truth is vital to human discourse.

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Filed under Civics Lessons, Guest Post

CORRUPTING THE CONCEPTS OF FREEDOM AND LIBERTY

This is a guest post from FJ Rocca. While not exactly about education, those of us in the classroom play a role in how students understand and use language. The ideas in the piece definitely apply to the history classroom.

In a civilized, authentically free society, the dangers of the disintegration and corruption of language are sometimes treated as curiosities or they are overlooked completely.  But the dangers are serious, because language must be stable to ensure the exchange of ideas.  Communication is a fundamental necessity if free people are to guard against encroachments upon their freedom.  But over the past hundred years, and especially in recent decades, political philosophers and their pragmatic goons, the politicians, have often deliberately if gradually subverted the meanings of certain key words in our language which are vital to discourse. This has been done for the express purpose of changing the understanding of those concepts, and thus to fool people into believing what they want people to believe, not the truth, but a semblance of it, which is wholly or partially false. Politicians do this in order to promote ideas and ultimately to enact laws that will give them more power, whether it is the power of the academy or of government, and they know that without the corruption of certain words and the concepts behind them, intelligent people will find these ideas and laws unpalatable and will reject them.  Therefore, the corruption of these vital concepts is done so slyly and gradually as to go nearly unnoticed, thus introducing confusion and encouraging needless time-wasting debate over fundamentals.  In this way, actual changes to society can be made apace without objection because the changes will not be noticed.

The most dangerous and damaging of these conceptual changes is the corruption of the terms “freedom” and “liberty.”  Clearly and simply defined, freedom and liberty mean the lack of encumbrance.  In a free society, the greatest encumbrance is the entity which has the power to restrict freedom and to interfere with one’s life, namely, government.  Therefore, we Americans often invoke the maxim quoted by Thoreau and wrongly attributed to Jefferson, but which was actually the creation of American journalist and editor John Louis O’Sullivan, that a government is best which governs least.

In our country, we have a constitution, the purpose of which is to protect each and every individual citizen from the intrusion of government.  In a true, free republic, the government may act ONLY to protect each and every individual citizen’s liberty and freedom and to guarantee the unalienable rights of each and every one of those individual citizens, those rights having been granted to him and her not by government, but by their “creator,” whoever or whatever that may be.  Moreover, it does not matter who or what created those citizens and gave them life, because they exist and, while who or what made them exist is open to conjecture, the fact of their existence is NOT.  And it is by their very existence that those unalienable rights exist.

Originally, the term liberal meant some person or principle dedicated to the unalienable rights of each individual human being in a society. This concept came to be during the Enlightenment when people desiring freedom wanted liberation from the yoke of tyranny, from whatever form that tyranny had taken, whether by Royalty, by dictatorship or by religion.  Europeans, imbued with the urgency of liberation, came to the New World seeking freedom. But, gradually those seeking control over governments, for profit or for power, began to overtake the concept of liberalism. They began applying the concept of freedom and liberty inaccurately, until the definitions of freedom and liberty described the opposite of the original and authentic meanings of those terms.

The real meaning of freedom is the lack of restriction; therefore, there cannot be a “freedom” which gives something to someone.  For example, there cannot be a “freedom from want” because guaranteeing to provide goods or services to “free” someone from “want” does not mean freedom from restriction.  If anything, want is the normal state of human beings and creates their greatest motivation, the urge to find legitimate ways to survive and better their lot. Freedom from prejudice does not exist either, because such “freedom” restricts the right of people to think or feel however they wish, regardless of the feelings of others.  So long as no one acts on his or her prejudice, by violating another person’s rights, there can be no violation of anyone’s freedom.

Franklyn Delano Roosevelt arrogantly proclaimed and presumed to guarantee to Americans what he called the Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speech and Expression, Freedom of Religion and Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear.  The first two were already and continue to be guaranteed not by Roosevelt, who was a politician, but by our Constitution, the irrevocable document by which our government exists.  The second two, even by their grammar in the use of from, are illegitimate.  No one can guarantee that fear will not encumber anyone’s thoughts.  And what Roosevelt falsely called freedom from want can only be achieved by seizing property from some and giving it away to others, chosen by the government.

What is really intended by the assertion of these falsely defined “freedoms” is the imposition of restriction or encumbrance on some people in order to provide something for other people.  Thus, these definitions of freedom do not free anyone, but, in reality, they abrogate freedom of those from whom they take.  Nor are the recipients of what is taken free either.  Government does not produce wealth.  It can only have wealth if it seizes wealth from someone.  It is naïve to think that recipients of the wealth of others are free to do whatever they like, because their wealth is also to be taken for yet those others requiring some kind of “freedom.”

The Socialists have adopted and adapted the use of these terms to say that society in general should be free of the restriction of the needs, desires, wants, hopes, etc. of individuals where the needs, desires, wants, hopes, etc. of  society at large should predominate.  And, of course, the government would be the arbiter in such cases, deciding who should get what and be treated in what way.  This is the exact opposite of the purpose freedom and of a constitution which guarantees freedom in an authentically free society.

In relation to all of this, the definition of government itself is often purposely skewed, in order to keep people from rebelling against it.  This is to say that the people are the government.  It is true that in a free society, the people at large are supposed to be able to control government.  We are often reminded that we have the vote, which is supposed to encapsulate the people’s power, enabling the people to choose representatives who will make decisions about the scope and power of “our” government.  But it is foolish to believe that “we the people” are governing ourselves directly.  We are actually governed by those other people in whom we have invested the power to use government to control and govern us.  Presumably, we are protected from the encroachments of government, i.e., from those other people who are governing us, by laws which are supposed to be derived from the constitution and guarantee our liberty.  But the power to make laws to protect us is also the power to make laws that subvert and erode our freedom.  And those lawmakers rarely speak out in their own names, but invoke the term “government” equating political power with an art.

George Washington, arguably our first, most capable leader, said that “government is not reason or eloquence.  It is force, and, like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a cruel master.”  He was right.  In a free society, the people need only as much or as little government as it can manage.

FJ Rocca is an independent, conservative writer/blogger of fiction and non-fiction, most interested in the philosophy of American conservatism. Clarity is more important than eloquence, but truth is vital to human discourse.

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Filed under English/Reading/Literacy, Guest Post, history education

#Thanksgiving #QuoteOfTheDay 11/28/2013 #Liberty #RonaldReagan

A little longer quote today. Here is Ronald Reagan’s 1985 Thanksgiving address:

Good morning, everyone. You know, the Statue of Liberty and this wonderful holiday called Thanksgiving go together naturally because although as Americans we have many things for which to be thankful, none is more important than our liberty. Liberty: that quality of government, that brightness of mind and spirit for which the Pilgrim Fathers braved the seas and Americans for two centuries have laid down their lives.

Today, while religion is suppressed in perhaps one third of the world, we Americans are free to worship the Almighty as we choose. While entire nations must endure the yoke of tyranny, we are free to speak our minds, to enjoy an unfettered and vigorous press, and to make government abide by the limits we deem just. While millions live behind walls, we remain free to travel throughout the land to share this precious day with those we love most deeply – the members of our families.

My fellow Americans, let us keep this Thanksgiving Day sacred. Let us thank God for the bounty and goodness of our nation. And as a measure of our gratitude, let us rededicate ourselves to the preservation of this: the land of the free and the home of the brave.

From the Reagan family to your family: happy Thanksgiving and God bless you all.

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by | November 28, 2013 · 8:41 AM