Freedom, Rights, Conservative Values, BUT What About…?

Posted By on November 29, 2010

In the past days and weeks since the historic elections of November 2nd much is being said about working to reestablish freedom, rights and conservative values, but all of this makes my head spin! Why? Because we are either ignoring, or refusing to acknowledge the single most important key to all of these. What is this most important key?

Personal responsibility.

Personal responsibility for my actions, not blaming them on what someone else may, or may not have done to me. Personal responsibility for governing my own actions, words, life and family. Personal responsibility to respect my fellow man (used in the generic sense). Personal responsibility in the way I treat others. In the words of the founding generation, virtue and morality.

Morality is identified with the Ten Commandments and obedience to the Creator’s mandate for “right conduct,” but the early Americans identified “public virtue” as a very special quality of human maturity in character and service closely akin to the Golden Rule.1

In a Republic, however, each man must somehow be persuaded to submerge his personal wants into the greater good of the whole. This willingness of the individual to sacrifice his private interest for the good of the community – such patriotism or love of country – the eighteenth century termed public virtue…. The eighteenth century mind was thoroughly convinced that a popularly based government “cannot be supported without virtue.” (Gordon S. Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 [Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1969], p. 68.)2 (Emphases added)

This is interesting, I must be responsible for my own actions in accordance with the Ten Commandments, the “Creator’s mandate for ‘right conduct,'” and based upon the teachings of the Golden Rule. Just to remind us:

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want the to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets…” Matt. 7:12 NASB

or more commonly,

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The original Jewish version by Hillel is:

“What is hurtful to you, do not do to another.”

Wouldn’t this nation be a much better place if everyone simply practiced this one simple maxim? If I/we didn’t do things to you that I/we know would hurt me/us, how would that change the way we acted within a public forum? If I/we were to “submerge” our “personal wants into the grater good of the whole” how would that change our national morality, and the picture we present to the world in general?

I assert that when I seek to impose my personal freedoms or rights on another, and to make that other person respect my freedom or rights, THEN my freedom and rights have become a form of TYRANNY! Forced freedom, forced rights, forced freedom of speech then becomes TYRANNY, the very opposite of what was intended. It is my responsibility to respect your right, your freedom and your choice to NOT respect mine. It is my responsibility to submerge my “personal wants,” my freedoms, my rights (if necessary) for the common good.

What are some contemporary examples of this? How about the pastors who recently decided to make a statement by burning, or threatening to burn the Koran? Is it within their rights to do this? Yes. Do they have the freedom to do this? Yes. Does it contribute to the common good to bring this into a public forum? NO! NO! and, again, NO! It brings harm to the public forum and the community. How would these same pastors respond to someone burning a New Testament? They would be outraged, appalled and offended. Oops! The Golden Rule? If they would be hurt or offended by such a public demonstration against Christianity, THEN they should NOT undertake – or threaten to undertake such an action against another.

What about the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque”? By forcing their right and their freedom upon the community, they are practicing a tyrannical act against the community. Once again, “In a Republic… each man must some how submerge his personal wants into the greater good of the whole.” For us to live together we MUST respect each other, and at times choose to not insist on my rights and freedoms.

In a Republic I must be responsible for how I respond within a public forum. Does this same restriction apply privately? No. But publicly I must be aware of the community and the common good.

Let’s listen to the warnings of Samuel Adams:

The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy the gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people; then shall we both deserve and enjoy it. While, on the other hand, if we are universally vicious and debauched in our manners, though the form of our Constitution carries the face of the most exalted freedom, we shall in reality be the most abject slaves. (Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, 1:22-23.)3 (Emphases added)


1 The 5000 Year Leap, W. Cleon Skousen, National Center for Constitutional Studies, © 2006, p. 50

2 Quoted in The 5000 Year Leap, p. 50.

3 Quoted in The 5000 Year Leap, p. 56.

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One Response to “Freedom, Rights, Conservative Values, BUT What About…?”

  1. Bobbie says:

    Then you have not heard of Tim Scott..that is his theme…Personal Responsibility. He is a worker.

    And..he gives all the glory to GOD!

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