Tom Gilson

25 Truths Essential To Restoring Our Freedoms

Happy Independence Day!

Today, more than any Independence Day in my lifetime, is a day for thinking about what it will take for us to restore our freedoms in America.

Freedom for some is being able to do what one wants. Better thinkers — including America’s Founders — have seen it rather as the freedom to do what is right, to do good, to practice virtue, to follow conscience. This is my view of freedom, yet for this Independence Day post I’m thinking more about the freedom for a people to govern themselves. In practice it’s hardly different from the other view, as you’ll see as you read on.

Two days ago when I committed to creating a list of “25 Truths Essential to Securing Our Freedoms,” I had no idea how hard it would be to distill it down to 25. I had to select out many important matters that just wouldn’t fit. It doesn’t mean I don’t believe in them, or that I consider them unimportant.

criticalconversationscover.jpgOur future freedoms also depend on restoring strength to a free society’s most basic institutions: marriage and the family.
For this generation and the next, please read
Critical Conversations: A [Not Only] Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing Homosexuality With [Not Just] Teens (More book info here.)

25 truths to guide us toward restoring our freedoms

  1. A free people is a people free to govern themselves.
  2. Americans in the mid-18th century — those of English descent, at least — were under a central government in London they could legitimately call their own — yet they were not free.
  3. Similarly America today stands under a government we can call our own, but that does not in itself make us a free or even self-governing people.
  4. America’s Founders rightly recognized the human tendency to accumulate and exercise power over others.
  5. To the extent that power accumulates and is exercised by a small number of individuals, to that same extent the rest are not free.
  6. America’s Constitution is the world’s most brilliant definition of the legitimate use of power and the best defense yet conceived against the tendency to abuse it.
  7. Freedom has been and is practically non-existent for some Americans. The fundamental problem wasn’t in our Constitution but in our tragic tendency to dehumanize some people. (This demands further discussion — see below.)
  8. The exercise of power at the federal level in the U.S. has grown far beyond what was written or intended in the Constitution.
  9. Americans are therefore no longer free as the Founders saw freedom to be.
  10. For the people to govern themselves as a civil society requires first of all that they govern themselves individually.
  11. To govern oneself well is to pursue a good and virtuous life under the direction of a well-formed conscience.
  12. Human nature tends to drift away from virtue and toward self-centeredness and self-satisfaction.
  13. History shows that the best corrective to that drift is a healthy belief in a good, transcendent moral law and Law-giver: God.
  14. A society of self-governing people is thus (generally) a society that recognizes the reality of God and God’s moral standards.
  15. Individual exceptions are possible: in a society with a generally strong conscience, individuals tend to have strong consciences, too, regardless of their belief in God.
  16. But a society that loses its overall awareness of God will also see its overall conscience drift away from the pursuit of virtue.
  17. No society can force belief in God, but it can encourage belief to flourish through freedom of religion and conscience.
  18. Freedom of religion and conscience necessarily imply freedom to act accordingly, publicly as well as privately; to keep religion strictly private actually denies the beliefs of most religions.
  19. Freedom of speech is of the essence of freedom of conscience and religion.
  20. Freedom of speech, religion, and conscience have become severely imperiled through recent social movements and court actions.
  21. To secure our freedoms therefore requires earnestly repenting of our apathy toward God, turning toward Him in prayer for help, guidance, and direction, and following His direction, not our own.
  22. It also requires standing firm against governments’ and society’s efforts to deny Americans full freedom of speech, religion, and conscience.
  23. Standing for those freedoms wasn’t easy in the years following July 4, 1776.
    (Thank God for all who have sacrificed so much to preserve our freedoms ever since our founding!)
  24. The fight in America today is mostly for the truths of freedom. This battle won’t be easy, either.
  25. We must do it anyway. No matter the cost, we must.

Dehumanization and Freedom Denied (#7)

There is one dark truth regarding America’s freedom that overshadows the rest. I couldn’t include it as one among many; it’s too huge for that. Freedom has never been equally available to all persons in our country, especially to slaves and to a disturbing extent their descendants as well.

America’s error was not in our view of freedom, but in our view of people. Euro-Americans failed (and often continue to fail) to view Native Americans, Americans of African descent, and other minority members as fellow human beings, fully equal in worth, entitled to the same God-given rights Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration of Independence.

Dehumanizing groups this way has been America’s greatest mistake by far. We’re committing it anew these days against the unborn.

We must repent.

Related: 25 Lies Dominating Western Culture Today.

Image Credit(s): LizzieB67.

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9 thoughts on “25 Truths Essential To Restoring Our Freedoms

  1. America’s error was not in our view of freedom, but in our view of people. Euro-Americans failed (and often continue to fail) to view Native Americans, Americans of African descent, and other minority members as fellow human beings, fully equal in worth, entitled to the same God-given rights Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration of Independence.

    Maybe it’s splitting hairs but slavery was an institution The United States of America inherited from its European colonial past. It was an institution that within 50 years of America’s founding it went to war with itself to abolish. It was never in keeping with the ideals of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution as the abolitionist movement and the Civil War showed. Is that a distinction without a difference? I think not.

    Dehumanizing groups this way has been America’s greatest mistake by far. We’re committing it anew these days against the unborn.

    I think the history of the United States shows a country that, in the overall, also humanized many, many groups. And this is not to minimize the racism that remained as an aftermath to the history of slavery here. However, the crime we’re committing against the unborn isn’t a reflection of our past but the result of the purposely dehumanizing effect of modern liberal secularism. It was strategized , planned, and implemented by forces committed to see that as a result.

  2. Wouldn’t you agree that freedom can’t be absolute? People need to work together cooperatively, and in order to do so, individuals must sacrifice some of their individual freedom for the good of the community.

    How would you establish a good balance between individual freedoms and community cooperation?

  3. Sadly, that merely exchanges the problem of defining “freedom” for the problem of defining “virtue”.

  4. History shows that the best corrective to that drift is a healthy belief in a good, transcendent moral law and Law-giver: God.

    Which god are you referring to, and why should belief in such a god be considered healthy?

  5. The God of the Bible, of course: God as he is known in both Jewish and Christian tradition.

    Your second question is too broad for this forum. If you’d like a complete answer, please check the articles here. There are 2,167 of them there for you to peruse, at current count. I could recommend a few hundred other sources besides.

    If you’d like to narrow down your question I’d be glad to narrow down my answer.

  6. Or you could just look at history and notice where one sees the best corrective to the drift toward a self-centered abuse of power. Not that belief in God always results in selflessness, but that where you see governments serving the people it’s generally where there is a healthy belief in a good, transcendent moral law and Law-giver.

    (By the way — I hope you noticed that when I referred to God the first time I gave that much of a description of the God I was referring to. There aren’t that many other candidates out there among all the religions that fit that description. You’d be surprised how hard it is to think of any at all that aren’t either Judaic, Christian, or some later derivative thereof.)

  7. As a thinking non-Christian, I agree with most of what you have listed here, certainly the first 12. I begin to take issue when your definition of freedom actually limits freedom.
    13. History does not prove any such a thing. The historian and philosopher Will Durant said that “the chief lesson of history is that the gods can be silent in many different languages.” The “corrective to the drift,” to use your phrase, is to have social and political value placed on altruism, and it must be applied and reapplied constantly.
    14 is exclusionary and “secure[s] the blessings of liberty for” a chosen few,” which #7 and your clarification of it indicates is not your intent. As soon as you disrupt the delicate, yet beautiful, balance of the establishment clause and free exercise phrase of the First Amendment, you render both impotent.
    16 contradicts 15.
    17 and 18 are true and should be true; however, I would ask for a clarification of what you mean by keep[ing] religion strictly private.” If that means expressing your opinions on the issues of the day and working to have them codified into law, then I have no issue. You do have to accept, however, that all laws are subject to judicial review and may be struck down or require modification. Also, when a person acts as an agent of the government, s/he surrenders of his/her personal expression. Examples of those: (1) As a member of the military, I was limited in my license to disagree with policy. I had the right to free expression within my personal living area and my personal belongings (posters on my wall, bumper stickers on my car, etc.), but was limited in what I could say while on duty or while wearing the uniform. (2) As a public school teacher, I am similarly limited in what I can say to students when I am representing my employer, a government agency. Again, my personal work space is a free expression zone. (3) In most cases. a government employee may not refuse to perform his/her duties. (4) A person who owns or works for a licensed business may not discriminate on the basis of certain protected statuses.
    20. I would be very interested in your clarification of that peril. I don’t think it really exists.
    21. Honestly, I believe 21 completely invalidates your other arguments. You cannot secure freedom by limiting it.
    I absolutely agree with 22-25, though I imagine we would have some disagreements about what each one means.

    This is, all in all, a very clear expression of philosophy, and phrased in a respectful manner. I trust you find my responses similarly so.

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