Americans love liberty. Dissect the heart of a patriot and you will find the DNA of freedom. Listen closely to a patriot as he or she reveals the musings of their mind and you will hear a fixation on personal liberty. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so a true American patriot abhors the thought of chains.
That is why tears well up in our eyes when we see the image and hear the voice of Ronald Reagan standing at the Berlin Wall telling Mr. Gobachev to tear it down. It is why we resonate with the words of Thomas Jefferson who said, “Liberty is to the collective body what health is to every individual body. Without health, no pleasure can be tasted by man; without liberty, no happiness can be enjoyed by society.”
Our love of liberty causes us to cheer when we see people of oppressed societies casting off the tyranny of central control in favor of individual freedom. As a nation, we cheered when Lech Walensa led Poland to reject communism. We cheered when the people of Timisoara, Romania tore open their shirts and walked into the rifle barrels of the dictator Ceausescu, causing the military to lay down their rifles in the face of such courage and join the call for liberty.
We cheered when we saw the statue of Sadaam Hussein toppled by Iraqis who had endured his brutal regime for over twenty-four years. We were inspired by the site of Iraqi men and women who risked their lives to exercise their newfound right to self-determination in a free election and then held up their ink stained fingers as a symbol of their courage.
Our eyes filled with tears when we heard about the carnage in Tieniman Square as the butchers of Beijing rolled tanks over the bodies of courageous college students who longed to breath free. We cheered when we saw the people of Iran turn a fixed election into an opportunity for reform. We were moved by their courage as they faced certain death in the streets.
The DNA of liberty that fuels the heart of every American patriot explains why the Somali pirates have a relatively easy time taking over ships that sail under the flags of other countries. When the unarmed crew of an American ship is attacked by well armed pirates, the DNA of liberty rises to the surface and causes every crew member to resist being taken captive by using whatever mean necessary to remain free.
The power of our constitutional republic is the freedom of individuals to choose to work together for a common goal that is rooted in absolute truth. The demise of our constitutional republic is being pressed upon us by a government that is determined to deny our individual rights by passing unconstitutional laws that depend on coercive force rather than a cohesive faith in biblical values that lead to free market capitalism.
The rains of early spring caused the Red River of Fargo, North Dakota to rise to record levels. The people knew the inevitable flood would destroy everything in its path. They came together and, for the most part, without direct government intervention, they stacked sandbags against the rising river and saving their town.
There is a flood of debt flowing out of Washington that threatens to drown every American in a sea of red ink. In the five short months of President Obama’s presidency, the tide of government control has risen at an alarming rate. This rising tide of fiscal irresponsibility threatens our freedom. Wherever government grows, personal freedom shrinks. We are left with a choice. We can start stacking the sandbags of freedom against the rising tide of government control our we can sit back and watch as our economy and our shared system of values hurtle toward the black hole of deficit spending and compounding debt.
Where do we start? We need to understand the difference between the traditional definition of freedom and the progressive definition of freedom. In Senator Jim DeMint’s new book, Saving Freedom, he defines progressive freedom as, “the freedom from responsibility, the freedom to behave destructively without moral judgment, the freedom from risk and failure, the freedom from want, the freedom from religion, and the freedom to have material equality with those who work harder and accomplish more.”
We must resist this secular progressive definition of freedom and replace it with an emphasis on freedom through personal responsibility. We should emphasize the freedom to behave within the bounds of an agreed upon morality that is based on the Truth of God’s Word. We should emphasize the freedom to pursue happiness in our own way rather than being forced to pursue some else’s idea of perceived happiness. We should emphasize the freedom to worship as we choose and the freedom to express our belief in God without government interference or censorship. We should fight for the freedom to work hard and to enjoy the fruit of our labors choosing to help those in genuine need without being forced to support those who will not work.
We need a three-step process if we are going to get back on the path of freedom. First, we should get inspired. Read biographies about our founding fathers and catch the passion they had for freedom. Remember, the Boston Tea Party wasn’t about tea or taxes. It was about the rejection of collectivism.
Second, get informed. Turn off reality TV and get back in the real world. Passion without knowledge will not persuade and it will not produce ideas that will endure. Read books and visit websites such as The Heritage Foundation that will help you understand how free markets work and the philosophical arguments behind them.
Finally, get involved. Write a letter to the editor or an op-ed piece for your local paper. Write a blog, get a FaceBook page, create a Twitter account and let your voice be heard. Communicate with your elected officials and support those who are passionate about returning our country to its constitutional roots. Become a candidate yourself if you don’t see anyone stepping forward to defend freedom.
Let’s allow he DNA of freedom to once again identify us as uniquely American.
Dr. Tony Beam is Vice-President for Student Services and Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina.