Freedom and Character Interdependence

Freedom and Character Interdependence

What is Freedom and Character Interdependence? It’s the inherent, inextricable relationship between freedom and character. And it’s what makes safe, prosperous, civil life possible in a free society.

I’ve written about this topic before. And I write about it every year around the time Americans celebrate Independence Day. America’s founders wrote about it, too. They understood that the very framework of our democracy (i.e. the Constitution) depended entirely on people’s good character. You can fact check this by reading some of John Adams’ papers.

Freedom and character interdependence is such an important issue that it’s worth not only reading about but also pondering deeply. The millions of laws we have and all the prison cells we constructed haven’t protected us from bad actors. Ultimately, behaving prosocially is a matter of the heart, and not a product of fear of laws and punishment. Folks of solid character don’t behave decently because laws tell them to or because they fear punishment. And folks of poor character aren’t influenced much by laws or the threat of punishment.

Time to Inspire

These days you hear a lot about reclaiming greatness in America. But America’s true greatness has never resided in its military might or economic power. Rather, it’s people of solid character who bring greatness to any country. People, that is, who honor their country’s noblest ideals and live them out in their daily lives. People who accept their responsibilities and do their best to foster not only their own prosperity but also the greater good.

We need to do a better job of inspiring each other to reclaim the true source of greatness. A country full of noble characters is a great country indeed. And a society full of self-serving, exploitative, abusive scoundrels is destined to fall. History attests to that, just as it attests to the importance of character. Our relationships, our country, indeed, our world, all ultimately depend on one thing: character. But character does not come to anyone easily, which is why we need inspiration (see also: Essentials for the Journey).

When my wife and I wrote Anthem for the Millennium (America, My Home!) in the late 90s, we wanted to inspire. And it’s been truly edifying to have so many folks perform our song for that very purpose. Here’s just one version of it for you to enjoy this holiday weekend as we celebrate our independence – an independence that depends on character to survive.

I talk more about this issue on the current edition of Character Matters.

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