I recently took my sixteen year old son and his friend to spend a week with my oldest son in his apartment. I had to chuckle when they were discussing the “freedom” my oldest has as an adult. He told the high-schoolers how he used to think it would be so much fun to be an adult… he could eat what he wanted, sleep when he wanted, spend money on what he wanted. Then reality set in. Yes, he could eat a whole bucket of ice cream if he wanted, but he would also end up feeling awful afterwards, usually while he was studying for a test or working at his job. He could sleep all day, but he would still have to try and get all his college work done. And watching his favorite TV shows 24/7? He tried that, but having to pay for the internet, cable, and utilities made being an adult not as much fun. Freedom, although most people don’t realize it, is just another word for personal responsibility.
Throughout history people have fought for freedom. The Hebrews wanted to be free from the tyranny of the pharaoh. The Colonists wanted freedom from England. Today some people want freedom from big government. But we can look back at history and see what happened. The Hebrews got their freedom, yes. But it wasn’t long before they were harassing Moses and wanted to go back to their slavery! The Colonists, after fighting a long war, started bickering among themselves. George Washington had to stop his men from rebellion. Daniel Shays led a group of farmers to fight against the local and state government. They also had to totally re-do their founding document to even make it work! We often think that we, as moderns, are so different from the people we read about in history.
Big government gives society so much. They are willing to tell us what we should be eating, doing, thinking. They will give us free cell phones, free food, free money. Isn’t that so much easier than having to do it for ourselves? We should be grateful to them for being so smart and taking responsibility for all of this. Shouldn’t we?
I don’t think so. The Hebrews had to trust Moses and be patient and they eventually got to the Promised Land. The Colonists worked through their differences and created the Constitution – an amazing document that has given the world an example of freedom to emulate. In both circumstances they had to take personal responsibility and then they received their freedom.
The freedom they received wasn’t something that they could take lightly. They had to fight for it every step of the way. They had to trust that they knew better than their adversaries what was right and good. They made mistakes, but they learned from them. They had an intense appreciation for freedom. Unfortunately that intensity only lasts for a generation or two. People forget. To be blunt – people today have forgotten. We are going to have to learn from our mistakes and regain that passion. Otherwise our freedom will have been traded for a free lunch.
Our government, generous as it seems to be, wants to take away our personal responsibility. In doing this they are also taking away our ability to fail and therefore grow and become better people… a better nation. North America was settled by entrepreneurs and leaders. They had to be innovative and creative to survive. They failed and some lost their lives, but as a nation we became stronger and we learned.
My oldest son had to learn some simple, but difficult, lessons when he first went away to college; but through his failures he has grown into an amazing young man that is ready to go out and make a difference in the world. He and the many other young people today that value their freedom and are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to protect it, give me so much hope for the future of our world. They are willing to take personal responsibility to make a difference and fight for our freedom. Are you?