Even though I love politics, I have been very intentional about keeping this blog free from the polarizing battles that political discussions tend to bring. But when I sit back and think about important things I want to pass on to my son, I can’t help but feel that avoiding politics outright means I am holding back some potentially valuable lessons. Politics is part of life, so shouldn’t life lessons include politics?
The specific inspiration for this post did not come about because of the thick, acrimonious political climate hanging in the air during the height of this election season; it did not come from an argument I witnessed between the ever-talking heads on the 24-hour news cycles; this post is simply inspired by a quote I read today. It’s one I’ve read and heard before, but today it struck me right between the eyes:
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
~ Ronald Reagan
What a powerful and sobering statement! If we do not instill a love for liberty in the lives of our children, we will most certainly be contributing to the erosion of their future freedom and prosperity — to the point of possible extinction. What a dark world it would be to live in where there is no freedom.
What I am beginning to learn as I grow older is that freedom is not the default setting in human nature. We instinctively want to control others and/or have our needs met for us. Just turn on a TV and you will see what I mean. Government keeps expanding, taking over more and more of what we as citizens should want to do for ourselves — feeding and providing for our families, earning a living through some form of ennobling work, caring for the needy in our community, etc. And if the government is not encroaching on our ability/drive to provide for ourselves, we citizens are going to them to demand that they provide for us certain freebies — including everything from 100% student loan forgiveness to the cost for our elective medical prescriptions.
The U.S. government was not created to provide for it’s people, it was created to protect our freedoms so that we could be free to provide for ourselves. Has that idea been lost completely?
Another alarming trend is that people of all political persuasions are increasingly turning differences of opinion into ugly battles, bent on trying to destroy anyone with a viewpoint different from their own. If “Company A” supports “Cause A” and some of its customers don’t agree with it, the modern disgruntled American citizen takes that so personally that he/she begins to form groups, organize protests, and take legal measures dedicated to putting “Company A” out of business. Out of business. Because of a difference in opinion. Is that really what we want our society to become?
We can look with contempt at violent riots in the Middle East over obscure, considerably mild insults, but are we really that far away from those people in the way we react to those with whom we disagree? There was a time when I would say “Thank God we don’t handle disagreements by rioting in the streets, destroying property, and injuring others,” but I’m not so sure I can make that claim anymore because prominent, well-supported groups in the U.S. have begun doing just that.
Living in freedom can be a difficult balancing act, but if we allow hurt feelings over personal differences and politically-charged destruction-minded responses to disagreements to win the day, then freedom is doomed. Living free means allowing others to live free as well. You will never agree with everyone’s beliefs, and not everyone will agree with yours. That’s okay. That’s what it means to be free.
I don’t want my love of liberty to die with me. I want to teach you what it means to love liberty — liberty for yourself, your future family, and for others in your community and around the world. I don’t know what America will be like when you are my age, but the trends I see today concern me. People will tell you that your rights are granted by the government, that the government can and should provide for your needs and the needs of those around you. That’s wrong. Always remember that your liberty, your rights, your freedom, is a God-given gift, and that the government should never be your provider. If you’re ever unclear about the role of freedom and government, take some time to read our nation’s founding documents. They hold a lot of wisdom.
“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. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
~ Excerpt from the Declaration of Independence