Everyone thinks that he/she are for liberty. No one, at least no reasonable person, longs for oppression. As Americans we have this word liberty etched into our consciences. Liberty, above all virtues, is the one thing that we all wish to uphold. So this might leave an outside observer confused.
If we are all for liberty, why are we so divided on so many issues? Why are students at universities burning other people’s property? Why are people in the streets for the last eight years protesting one group/president or another? Well, the truth is, most Americans are not really for liberty.
So, I know that comes as a shock. All who will read this will deny that they are the people about which I write. We all will believe that we are for liberty. We will claim that this cannot be us, we are liberty lovers. But let’s examine this assertion. If we put our love for liberty to the test, what happens?
The first and best test of this love we think we have is the liberty of others. If we love liberty, we will love the liberty of others the best. Because, when we love liberty, we know that it is the securest when shared by all. If they are not robbing my neighbor of liberty, then they are less likely to rob me of mine. So, what does that look like in real life?
In real life, liberty can be ugly and hard to accept. In the dark recesses of our imagination, liberty is a beautiful beast. She is majestic and strong. She runs swiftly along the streams of our thoughts and ideas. She carries our hopes and beliefs to new heights. But in reality, she may muddy and mar those dreams.
This means if we truly love liberty, we must let her run left and right. We cannot choose for others what liberty means for them and when. Liberty will lead others to do and say things that we do not like. But, if we get to silence them, do they not get to silence us?
Of course, liberty is not license. We cannot use liberty as an excuse to do what we will, but do what we can. True liberty is the right to discover and do what we ought. Being at liberty is having the freedom to act responsibly.
True lovers of liberty hold it most sacred in the life of their neighbor. This love is expressed most visibly in defense of that right for those with whom we most strongly disagree.
The loss of this love for liberty is why we are outraged when we are silenced but silence at the silencing of other. And this will work the death of the liberty of us all in the end.