Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Freedom, Government, and Your Soul

Some years ago, in an Introduction to Political Thought course I was teaching, while we were discussing the American Constitution, I asked my 29 students if they would rather be free or safe.  All but one chose safety.  Monica, the lone dissenter, a girl who wore black to class every day, chose freedom.
When I asked her why, she said, “Unless you are free, you can never be safe.”
She was exactly right, of course.  Hers was an insight lost on too many contemporary Americans, who would much rather be safe than free.  For safety and security, they would willingly surrender to the nanny state all or part of nearly every freedom they have.  The nanny state is quite willing to provide for them in every way, from health care, to education, to housing, to retirement, to food subsidies -- as if government could live your life for you, and fulfill all your moral and personal responsibilities in your stead.  All government requires in return is that you sacrifice your independence and your inalienable responsibilities, which are the obverse of your inalienable rights.  (The inalienable rights that cannot be taken away imply responsibilities that cannot be forfeited or assigned.  Just as the rights are irrevocably yours; so are the obligations they entail.  If you want to keep them, rights and freedoms are challenges you must live up to.)  Government asks only that you become a permanent ward of the state, and vote in accordance with your dependency.  Too many modern Americans do not know what George MacDonald knew:  Security is a mortal’s greatest enemy.
You can never be what you were meant to be if you cede your responsibilities over to the state -- or to anything else.  To do so is to rob yourself of the chance to be yourself, to be the man or woman God intends.  He intends you to be conformed to the character of his Son, Whom no one ever accused of selling His soul to Caesar for a meal or a handful of coins, as if government were His God, bureaucrats were His bishops, and federally produced case manuals were His Bible.  Those things are not the means to freedom.  Truth is (John 8: 32).  And if you want to make free persons, you must bring them to the Truth (John 14: 6), not bind them to the state.  When governments operate as they ought, they are the protectors of freedom.  When they operate as now they often do, they are among its greatest enemies, and therefore also the enemies of sanctification and your soul.
Remember this:  Government money always comes at a price.  That price is your freedom and, therefore, your self-determination and spirituality.  If you expect to derive your security and your provisions from government and not from God or his people, then your very soul is stymied.  It was made for God, and for God only.  It cannot thrive or grow by feeding at the government trough.  Lift your eyes Higher, and your soul will follow.

P.S.  A few weeks later, after making her comment about human freedom and security, black-wearing Monica came to class dressed all white.
"Monica," I said, "you're wearing white!"
"Yeah, she replied, "I'm depressed."

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