Tim Barton: Vote Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness

Tim Barton: Vote Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness October 18, 2012

This is guest post from my friend Tim Barton, an ordained minister and speaker for WallBuilders, a national pro-family organization that presents America’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on our religious, moral, and constitutional heritage. WallBuilders has been recognized from coast-to-coast for its work in education, history, law, and public policy, integrating the elements of Biblical faith and morality throughout all aspects of American life and culture. See his video here.

As the election quickly approaches, our nation faces a fork in the road, a choice between two distinct worldviews and philosophies of government. These two roads are diametrically opposed and their end results will not only impact our future but will determine what is left behind for our children and grandchildren.

One side cries for larger government and shared or collective responsibility. The other side encourages individual responsibility and freedom of choice. It’s not just the economic differences; there are clear moral distinctions which separate the two camps.

In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson explained that “we hold these truths to be self-evident,”  a Jeffersonian way of saying, “Any dummy should understand this.” We believe that “all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Signer of the Declaration and Constitution, James Wilson explained that unalienable rights are “those rights to which we are entitled by our all-wise and all-beneficent Creator.” John Dickinson, a member of the Continental Congress and Brigadier-General as well as a signer of the Constitution, similarly explained that unalienable rights are rights “which God gave to you and no inferior power has a right to take away.” They are, in effect, God-given rights.

The Declaration identifies three of our God-given rights as “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Life

It is no coincidence that the first identified God-given right is the right to life. Without life, all other rights are meaningless. This concept alone should weigh heavily on our perspective on abortion. Some may argue, “What about the mother’s rights?” The right of convenience or inconvenience does not bear more weight than the God-given right to life. The attempt to remove consequences from actions has become a “right” in our culture. It is foolish and naïve to assume that someone else should clean up the mess you made or to even demand that someone should not be made to pay for the food they just consumed. However, this is the exact reasoning that is used to argue for the “convenience right” of the mother to abort her unborn child. But, I digress.  Simply put, our Founders knew that without Life all other liberties and happiness would be meaningless.

Liberty

Liberty has become a rallying cry for many today. It has been the cry of those from Moses in the Bible to William Wallace in Scotland to our founders who fought in the American Revolution. But there have been different approaches to liberty. In France, throughout her many revolutions, liberty was a leading cry. However, the French revolution was significantly different from the American Revolution. The French presumed that liberty should be without any constraints, moral or otherwise. They believed government should rectify the class distinctions and abuses that had long pervaded their nation. Their cry was for “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.” This notion, however, is a contradiction both in terms and effect.

With liberty, people have the opportunity to achieve based on their choices, ability and work ethic. Because people make different choices, have different abilities, and put forth different levels of effort, people will not achieve equally. Therefore, the only way to make people “equal” in terms of outcome is for an outside force to “balance the scales.” This “outside source” is always the Emperor, or King, or Government, and it will always strip away liberty to give equality. You simply cannot have both.

Pursuit of Happiness

In America, we believed liberty was better than equality of outcome (but we do believe in the inherent equality of worth). We would rather be free to make our own choices than be equal in possessions, lands or finances and be controlled and dictated to by the Government, Emperor or King. (Ironically, the “government” in this role always becomes a “controlling” authority over the people to bring them “equality,” but in so doing it establishes a “ruling class” over the people – which is exactly what the French were fighting against in the first place!) This is why in America we said “liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” In America, you are free to pursue whatever dream you desire. Because you are alive (“life”) and have the freedom to make your own choices, within the confines of law (“liberty”), you can pursue any field or career you desire. This does not guarantee success but it allows you the “pursuit of happiness.”

As this election draws near, there are two paths which lie before us. They are headed in opposite directions. One encourages “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and one seems to be in direct opposition to these God-given rights. Although both sides promise success and prosperity, there is only one way which has proven to achieve this dream.

This election, vote for “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness!”

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