The Stars and Stripes of Freedom and Responsibility

Like spoiled teenagers we’ve grabbed about as much freedom as any human family can possibly take while forgetting responsibility with as much alacrity. We may complain about the nanny state, but for far too long we have been crybabies in need of a nanny. More than that, we are in need of a wet-nurse to suckle. When a people abdicate responsibility they also sacrifice their freedom. You cannot be mollycoddled and have freedom. The embrace of nanny is a prison and the provision of nanny pulls the child into an addictive dependency.

My own children commented on some of their classmates’ lack of freedom. “You wouldn’t believe it Dad. Their parents put GPS sensors on their cars to track them. They have this spy software on the computers to check if they’re watching porn. If they don’t make straight As and come in by eleven they get grounded!” We observed that the parents and the teenagers were not very comfortable with either freedom or responsibility and surmised that the parents had probably been raised under a similarly draconian regime and probably go through their work day living under an overbearing system and schedule. Therefore, not only in the realm of government, but in every aspect of life Americans seem content to submit, kow tow and accept the yoke of authoritarian control. They are happy to be tread upon.

And why? Because the responsibility demanded by freedom has become too onerous. The personal virtue demanded by the high philosophical standards of the American founding fathers has become tiresome. Everything–even religion– has become entertainment, and we are evermore driven to the easy solution, the sweet sentiment and the instant fix. We want someone to do it for us so it is easier to become a cipher. Easier to fall in with the pack of lemmings and become a drudge and a drone, and when that happens no tyrant needs to descend with armed police to take a people’s freedoms for they have already yielded them and submitted. The armed police are only used as a mopping up operation for those one or two recalcitrant citizens who still refuse to be tread upon.

On this fourth of July therefore, let us celebrate our independence with the mature acceptance of both freedom and responsibility. Let us aspire to the star of freedom while accepting the stripes of responsibility so that we have a country to be proud of and a heritage to hand on to our children.

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