Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Live Your Freedom

A few years ago a reporter asked a well-known Congressman's opinion concerning the arrest of two "tax-evaders" in Florida. He responded that it was his opinion, as based on historical precedence and on basic foundational American philosophies, that the ability of the people to practice civil disobedience is their right -- so long as they accept the consequences and do so peacefully without violating anyone else's life, liberty, or property. The reporter was shocked and asked the Congressman what would happen if everyone just woke up one day and decided not to pay their taxes -- wouldn't mass anarchy follow?! To this the Congressman calmly said "no", but that if all the people banded together in one issue like that, then, in a Constitutional Republic, the government would have to listen and change its policies and laws to reflect 'We the People's' rights.

People naturally seek for order -- chaos is not within our nature as it was when there was merely matter unorganized. The fear of anarchy is a poor tactic used by politicos and academics to create a fictitious monster that does not even exist in nature -- if man naturally seeks for order by his eternal nature, then anarchy itself is merely an abstract concept outside of man's natural state-of-being. However, when man's association with his neighbor (government) enters the sphere of injustice, it is requisit under a divine and eternal imperative for man to adjust his relationship with his neighbor to promote justice and equity. This is easier said than done, and, as Thomas Jefferson observed: "all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed" (Declaration of Independence). This is to say, that injustice between men is most often allowed, until things become so bad that neither can endure the yoke of injustice.

The question is: when does it get so bad that people feel they need to change? When do we individually "abolish the forms to which [we] are accustomed"? It is my experience that the fear in most people is that of relativism: what makes my truth any better than someone elses, and what happens if everyone just abides by the laws they want to abide by? These are natural questions that initially arise and keep people in a relationship of injustice between their neighbor. The foundational belief -- the basic premise -- behind these question presupposes that everyone's natural disposition is towards anarchy and not order. This basic premise supposes that men are evil and do not seek the good of their neighbor naturally. In essence, this basic premise derives from the conceptual and basic philosophies of socialism -- that men cannot be trusted to perform their duty in freedom and that they must be coerced from the state.

This notion of relativism presupposes that reason and good-will towards man is not inherently within men. It is within coercion that men make their strongest arguments; however, as Godwin observes, the opposite is true.

"If [my neighbor] who employs coercion against me could mold me to his purpose by argument, no doubt he would. He pretends to punish me, because his argument is strong; but he really punishes me, because his argument is weak" (Godwin).

So, now, the question arises again -- when do we know the line has been crossed? Our founders rejected tyranny and oppression, and from the basis and understanding of freedom and liberty they organized a country according to the natural order of things. They declared their independence, and what happened? What was the result? Was it chaos? Was it anarchy? When men rejected tyranny and lived their freedom, what happened?

"If, however, We the People believe ourselves incompetent to judge when that line has been crossed, then we will continue to find no shortage of political masters eager to carry on Lincoln’s legacy of contempt for our Constitution, and violent suppression of self-government" (Josh Eboch).

The question will be answered in a myriad of ways -- each way depending on the level of freedom each individual is willing to live and obtain. However, it is important that we always keep in remembrance our fathers.

5 And behold, after that, they were brought into bondage... yea, I say unto you, they were in captivity, and again the Lord did deliver them out of bondage by the power of his word; and we were brought into this land, and here we began to establish the church of God throughout this land also.
6 And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?
7 Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.
8 And now I ask of you, my brethren, were they destroyed? Behold, I say unto you, Nay, they were not.
9 And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved. (Alma 5: 5 - 9)

This country has a rich heritage and a divine birthright of freedom. Each of us has a part to play, and we are all called to the work to preserve our liberty and freedom. We know that the war in heaven is not over, but that we are continuing on more fervently than ever before -- it was over the principle of agency that divided us before we came to this life, and it may well be the same principle that will divide us again. We choose how much freedom we want to enjoy, and it is according to our faith in God and our tenacity that we live that freedom. The example is before us, those founding fathers lived their freedom and they were saved. I wonder if we can stand heir to as great blessings of freedom except through as much cost as our founders went through -- something tells me that our sacrifice must be nearly as great in order to be justified: "Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated" (Thomas Paine ).There is a very high price we must pay for our freedom, and a debt of gratitude we owe to our founders.

"Oh, posterity.You will never know how much it cost us to preserve your freedom. I hope that you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it."