Liberty Requires Character
Preserving liberty requires character. I’ve said this before. But it’s time to say it again. In fact, it’s a point you simply can’t stress enough. It’s natural for human beings to crave freedom. But without character, any liberties a society might enjoy easily become license. And in an atmosphere of license, chaos and destruction are the inevitable consequence.
In America, we still enjoy an uncommon degree of freedom. And in a few days, we’ll celebrate both our our historical and our attitudinal “independence.” But there’s an interdependence we simply can’t escape and do well not to ignore. And that’s the interdependence of freedom and character.
Many of our country’s founders understood the essential relationship between freedom and character. How do we know this? Because they wrote and spoke about it. And they did so many times and in many ways. According to John Adams, the whole structure of the system they were trying to create depended entirely on people possessing good character.
A Noble Ideal Facing Extinction
The notion of fashioning a maximally free society is an inherently precarious one. Affording folks maximum freedom is indeed a noble ideal. But bad actors inevitably abuse freedoms. And when they do, there’s inevitably pressure to restrict freedom. And this is what we’ve increasingly done as the character crisis we have experienced for decades has spiraled out of control.
A catastrophic vicous cycle has churned for decades. Someone does the outrageous. In our horror, we ponder how such a thing could happen. Then we propose new rules to govern everyone’s conduct. We do so in the hope that the outrageous won’t happen again. But then it does anyway. Why? Because only decent characters abide by the rules. So, nothing is gained. But worse, in the process, more precious freedom was lost.
Laws can’t fix our character-related problems. Acknowledging this critical. It’s the proverbial “first step” to genuinely fixing any problem. So, instead of focusing on more restrictions, need to put character at the center of our attention. And we have to afford it the status and importance it once had in our lives. Freedom hangs in the balance.
I talk about this more on the special holiday edition of Character Matters.
Celebrating “Independence” and Freedom
Over the upcoming weekend, Americans celebrate their “independence” and freedom. And while there’s still much to celebrate, there’s also much to mourn. In many neighborhoods, there’s little understanding of the essentials requirements for a healthy, safe, prosperous community. And it’s all too easy to blame certain conditions – conditions that have been with humankind since the beginning. It’s time we look in the right place and do what’s really necessary to usher in genuine and lasting solutions. All my work, including my latest book, is designed to inspire this. And one special way I hope to inspire is the anthem I offer below.
Happy Independence Day!