What Do We Stand For?
by Brandon Smith / Personal Liberty Digest
This is not to say that I believe the fight is lost. Far from it. In fact, I would consider myself an optimist amongst many of my peers in the liberty movement as to our chances of defending Constitutional freedom today. There is a very strong core within our country that still embraces the ideals of individualism and independence. The problem is that those who are awake face each day surrounded by lunatics and the giggling blind. It’s difficult to find solace within the asylum of the “mainstream,” so we begin to assume we are alone.
Even worse, we sometimes have to deal with misguided and biased people who join the liberty movement not to stand upon any solid fundamental principles, but to attempt to impress their own twisted world views upon us as if they “know better.” You would think that the concept of freedom would be simple to understand and grasp. But for some people, it is like plunging into a trigonometric wonderland of confusion.
As the United States, led by the Administration of President Barack Obama, moves toward yet another possible war in the Mideast, using covert terrorists as proxies and enacting violent policy based on dubious or nonexistent evidence and far-flung accusations, I realize that with all the blathering voices out there telling us what to think, what to do, what to fear, whom to admire, whom to worship, how to live and what to aspire, perhaps it is time for each of us to solemnly question what we stand for and what America is supposed to stand for.
Really, think about it. What are we here for? What purpose do we serve in the grand scheme of things? What are our defining principles?
Have we lost track of ourselves as Americans so completely that we cannot even explain in a reasonable fashion what kind of people we want to be and what kind of world we want to live in? Are we so busy squabbling with each other that we have no time to examine the foundation upon which we all rely?
I think it is safe to point out that for many decades the actions of our government have not represented or reflected the ideals of the public. I can’t say I’ve met very many people who would voluntarily or happily cheer the course of our Nation. Much of what is done in our name is not done for our benefit or for the benefit of our children. Most of the crimes committed by our government are crimes we would never want to be remembered for as individuals.
If this is the case and if deep down we all want a much different legacy than what is being created for us, what would this legacy be? I believe that most Americans would not argue with the following list of virtues.
Enduring IndividualismMost Americans want to be in control of their own destinies. The sad reality, though, is that many Americans believe themselves to be in control of their own destinies when they are not. They believe they are informed when they are actually ignorant. They believe they are rich when they are actually poor. They believe they are self-sufficient when they are actually as helpless as newborn babies. They believe they are courageous when they are actually cowards. And they believe they are righteous when they are actually guilty of numerous crimes against their fellow man. One cannot be an individual unless he understands himself and his own weaknesses.
True IndependenceAmericans want to see themselves as independent and self-reliant, yet many of us go about pursuing this independence in backward ways. Socialists view an independent life as a gift granted by society through the tool of government. In other words, they believe that the collective is responsible for supporting and sustaining the individual and that the individual owes the collective allegiance for its efforts. Objectivists tend to treat independence as a kind of “get out of jail free card,” as if true individuals should care only about themselves and their posterity and that there should be no consequences for their own harmful actions.
What both sides can’t seem to fathom is that independence is about responsibility. It’s about responsibility to one’s self, to make one’s own way in life without the constant aid of a nanny state. It is also about responsibility to one’s inner conscience, which warns us not to maliciously violate the life and liberty of others. Whether on the left or the right, Americans have forgotten that real independence comes with strings attached.