to the editor from this week's Chronicle:
Guest Editorial by Scott Perrin of Cottonwood
True, free people who actually can celebrate Independence Day are most commonly found in men and women who are independent or self-reliant through years of hard work and effort. They are a master to no one…and in turn no one is a master of them. Rarely do I hear them blame, whine or point fingers. If there is a problem, they recognize their problems are in the mirror…and when they look again they recognize their solutions are in the mirror. Their language is civil and they are not enslaved to vices of alcohol, internet, gaming, gambling, tobacco, porn, gossip, lying, or taking something that is not theirs (due to lack of self-discipline). They are problem solvers, builders, and encouragers. Amongst themselves I hear “You play with the bull you get the horns”, “fish or cut bait”, “you made your bed, sleep in it”, “good work”, “fine job”, “well done”, “suck it up”, and “I know you are on hard times…here’s a little bit until you get back on your feet”. They often are the most charitable people I meet and the most industrious.
Many will say self-discipline is too binding, too constricting…how can I be free if I’m bound to rules of individual discipline? The answer is in the truth and reality that a powerful train is useless without railroad tracks. Just like a new $45k pickup is also useless without a steering wheel.
One of my favorite insects, is the ant, which has no ruler, nor overseer, or taskmaster, yet collects its food during the summer and is prepared for the winter.
The original pilgrim community in 1680’s nearly starved or died of exposure that first season. Conditions improved, but they did not prosper. This was mostly due to merchant sponsored rules of a common store and common goods, and everyone got a common share….whether you were industrious or not. Governor Bradford changed these arrangements the following years so that people received parcels of land and were paid by what they produced. Those that worked harder earned more. It was Providential. A way of life available to all was born. Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were soon written. News spread and people came to America throughout the world in hope they were able to keep the fruit of their labor and live as they believed.
The question to ask myself and ourselves is am I becoming free due to my choices and individual responsibility. Am I free from debt or do I have unnecessary debt? Am I free to swim (because I’ve learned or do I sit on the beach all day and splash in water and call it swimming)? Am I free to drive (or do self-inflicted DUI’s and tickets stop me)? Am I free to walk without shortness of breath (or have I “sat “too much? Am I free to cook? (Or have I forgotten how to cook because I let taxpayers do it for me via school breakfast). Am I free to raise my children? (Or have I abdicated it to other citizens via school and because I’ve forgotten what it was like to be little). If we are free due to our choices we can celebrate Independence Day as individuals. If so as individuals, then collectively as a people, and a country.
One of my favorite stories about choice and freedom is 6 friends in a rural community who found an old car on a hill above town. Ambitious and energetic they decided to push the car and point it downhill towards town. To their delight, the car moved and the steering wheel worked. Everyone agreed to ride it back to town except 1 boy. He said “No Way!” He waved the other 5 friends off as the car began to roll. Two bailed when they saw the brakes not “pumping up”….they rolled when they hit the ground. The faster the car got though the less freedom the others had to get out due their decision to stay in the car. Soon they realized the brakes weren’t good. Two more jumped resulting with 1 broken leg, abrasions, and a sprained ankle. The final boy scoffed and said he would drive it out which he did until steering failed. He now had no choice but to go where the car was going….into a ravine. He didn’t walk away from it.
As a people if we want to discover true freedom we are going to have to be more self-reliant and not fall for the charade of prosperity of “government” programs. Elected officials have no money and are still borrowing billions a day. If we do fall for it we will become indentured servants to pay for it. Sadly I think the debt is to help the one group of people in our country to live off the fruit of others…partly because of laziness and lack of self-disciplinebut mostly because they are above “working” and “producing”. They believe they are the “elite” just like King George from whom our ancestors separated, and they should live in luxury. Of course we won’t hone in on the fruits of our neighbor work in our community, but sometimes we don’t mind if elected officials take the money for us and then give it to us in the name of a program. We grant true freedom to ourselves by our choices….not the government. Our self-disciplined ancestors with the fruits of their labor created an organization or “government”, not to grant freedom, but to protect those who wanted freedom and liberty that resulted from self-discipline and work over time. With this in mind the Constitution and Declaration of Independence will make more sense. And this is why, Constitution is currently hanging by a thread.