Liberty Is The Goal

Over 240 years ago, our Founding Fathers and their supporters did a rather unique thing. They fought and won a war against the biggest superpower of the time. They claimed their independence. Then they performed an even more amazing act- they created a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. For years before the war they had one goal. When forced to fight they pursued a singular destination. When they had their freedom from tyranny they continued to follow a specific path. Their objective throughout the struggle? Liberty.

Liberty is simply being able to act any manner you wish with the caveat of not infringing on the life of another. We fought for and won the right to say that we all have rights that are unalienable and as long as you observe that ideal in your daily activities you are free to do what you want. That is the proper pursuit of happiness.

Liberty is defined in the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary as :

” {natural liberty} consists in the power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, except from the laws of nature. It is a state of exemption from the control of others, and from positive laws and the institutions of social life. This liberty is abridged by the establishment of government.”

The last sentence is vital to understand. When we form government, we consent to that government and delegate certain powers to this entity. Some activities that we used to perform as individuals are delegated to government. Notice I said “delegated” not given. If government refuses to do what they are supposed to do, we the people retain the right to do so.

An example of one of these delegated powers is the police. Before government, in the state of nature, when a person infringed on your rights (robbery, fraud, bodily harm, etc.) you had the onus of seeking justice. This can result in chaos. Individuals deciding what “justice” looks like is often not justice at all.

So we created courts. Juries. Police. Things that we had done previously ourselves were now in the hands of people we hired, appointed or elected to do the job. We penned laws to define what was considered wrong and how a situation was to be dealt with. This law was to apply to everyone. This was our common law. Has it always been without fault? No. Human nature demands that it be imperfect. But when correctly applied moral and just actions are largely the result.

The consent of the governed is an important idea to understand. The only powers we can bequeath to government are ones that we already possess. This consent is what creates justice. This is the limiting factor of a righteous law. If this ideal is not recognized and laws are passed in defiance, then injustice is the result. We see this too often today in our society. We have traded liberty for perceived security.

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Benjamin Franklin

Our common law has a simple guiding ideal- their can be no crime without a victim. This standard covers everything that we consider a crime- murder, rape, theft, fraud, injury to a person or their property. Anytime a person’s rights are infringed, a crime is  committed and justice demands resolution. The society we live in today has forgotten and abandoned this simple and powerful idea.

Arbitrary laws are the tools of tyranny. The idea that a crime can be committed when their is no victim allows for any type of behavior to be subject to the law. This is a restriction on liberty. Think of all the things that are “illegal” in today’s society that carry a punishment for perpetrating. Jaywalking. Selling lemonade to your neighbors. Speeding in a car. Watering your lawn on the wrong day. Fishing without a license. Carrying a gun without a permit. Giving the homeless something to eat. Conducting business without a permit or license. Smoking a plant. The list is much longer and continues to grow daily. Where are the victims in any of these activities? There are none of course. But the potential to injure someone is part of the human condition, it exists all around us and we have allowed this fear of injury to destroy our liberty.

Many will say that without these arbitrary laws (laws where a “higher” potential to harm others exists) then we would experience chaos. Speeding in a car for example. Speed limits would still exist but exceeding them would not be a cause for a ticket. Some would say if speed limits were not enforced then everyone would drive like a maniac. This is simply not true. The proper application of speeding laws would be in case of an accident. If a person causes an injury to a person or their property because of excessive speed, then the offender would be charged with driving above the speed limit and properly punished. There must be a victim for a crime to have occurred.

In today’s society many think it is alright for government to regulate interactions between consenting adults. For instance, I want to sell some of my lasagna to a friend. He wants to buy it. This is a consentual activity. Unfortunately for us, we have laws on the books which state that without permission from government in the form of licenses, permits, inspections, etc., my lasagna cannot be bought by another.  Too many people are willing to allow themselves to be subjects of arbitrary laws in the name of safety. This is a direct contributor to the lawless government we witness today.

Liberty is not a destination. It is a journey. You will never wake up one day and say “we have achieved liberty”. We are always in pursuit of liberty because of the nature of humans. This “human nature” is something that is a constant. Some want to help others by diverting their resources and time to do so. Others are more interested in themselves and follow a slightly different path. Then there are some who want to prey on other human beings for a multitude of less than savory reasons. There are varying degrees in all of this. That is human nature. This has been a constant throughout human history.

In light of this, the Anglo-Saxons pursued a path that took the idea of human nature into account. The laws that were formed over the centuries culminated in a simple creed: There can be no crime without a victim. This is the most highly moral stance that the law can take. These laws are applicable to all. If there is no victim in a specific activity, then no crime is committed and justice needs not be sought. This is one of the paradigms which elevated our country to greatness.

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

Thomas Jefferson

“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery”. Thomas Jefferson was the champion of the idea of liberty. His teachings have been lost on too many people nowadays. There is a culture of fear that has replaced our founding principles. This “fear culture” is pervasive throughout our society. We are taught that the worst of human failings will always rise to the top. This idea of the lowest common denominator in reference to human nature is the mechanism for our repudiation of liberty.

It is time we as a people recognize and support liberty once again. Every breathe you take could be your last. It is foolhardy to think that government can protect us from all harm. Their proper duty is to protect our rights from any who would infringe on them. This is why we created government. To secure our rights. The idea that government is our protector is a reckless one that has led us to the precipice.

The reason for our greatness as a nation is due to our unhampered pursuit of happiness. Government is much like fire- when used properly it is a boon, but when out of control it is a menace. It is time to control the fire. It is time to stop being fearful and once again be the home of the brave.

Join me at Constitutional Cappuccino to get plugged into a website that is all about the education Americans need to move our country back to its proper trajectory. My new book “Patriot Ammo: The Words Behind Our Flag” is also available and teaches of our founding documents and principles. The book would make a great present for anybody 16 and up.


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