Monday, February 18, 2008

The Freedom Connection

To me, the most beautiful thing in the world is the US Declaration of Independence. Just reading the title makes me shiver. I believe that Thomas Jefferson's document is meaningful to all Americans, even if they are not aware of it, because it is what makes our country unique and so truly great. It distinguishes this country from all those that ever existed before, by acknowledging that freedom is the birthright of every person. To be an American is to believe in what it says.

No country before had ever acknowledged to individuals the dignity and respect that ours does -- sovereignty over their own lives, the natural right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." No country had ever dedicated itself to the idea of protecting all its citizens, instead of exploiting them.

We Americans have the right to do anything we want. There is only one condition: that we do not interfere with the same right of ALL others. That statement is a political Golden Rule. It humbles me to remember that I was lucky to be born here, where freedom and liberty are not just the privilege of a few but a right guaranteed to all.

With little knowledge of politics, I was elected to the City Council of Aspen, Colorado in 1970. I served one term. That experience combined with the social and political turmoil of the Vietnam War era made me realize that our government, despite our constitutional protections, dominates the personal lives of citizens in many ways -- too many. I did not like being manipulated by "big brother" Therefore, I became a member of the Libertarian Party, a supporter of freedom and limited government, and am no longer politically homeless.

From the libertarian perspective, it is easy to see that the government uses its schools to control citizens' lives to a startling degree. In his book, Is Public Education Necessary?, Samuel Blumenfeld wrote, "The American public educator is quite willing to do whatever the government bids him or her to do -- today in favor of racial integration, tomorrow in favor of something else. This does not bode well for American freedom, but we ought not be surprised, since totalitarian governments have long considered public education as their most important tool for indoctrinating and controlling the young." In the same vein, Cathy Duffy writes in her book, Government Nannies, "My concern and to stimulate more people to value their freedom and autonomy enough to stand against the encroachment of benevolent government-nanny programs that would keep us all as perpetual children."

While our government seems to be doing everything it can to deny us our natural right to freedom, privacy and property, I still believe in our founding principles and as long as those documents exist. I know we can, and should, continue to seek and defend a life of self-determination with individual liberty and personal responsibility.

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