This essay was submitted as part of the First Annual Libertas Essay Contest, with cash prizes totaling $2,000! You can view all of the essay submissions here.
The fundamental threat to our liberty, both as Utahans and as U.S. citizens is ignorance. This presents a challenge to the liberty lover, as it is difficult to spread a message whose introduction is â€śYou are being stupid!â€ť Most are not receptive to such a message, whether accurate or not.
In order to restore and safeguard our liberty, the first challenge that we must overcome is to convince our fellow countrymen first, that they have lost liberty, and second, that this is a negative condition. It may seem obvious that a loss of liberty is harmful, but experience has taught us that most are quite willing to sacrifice liberty if it has the appearance of providing safety and security. While Benjamin Franklinâ€™s adage that â€śthose who are willing to sacrifice liberty for temporary security deserve neither and will lose bothâ€ť rings true to those with eyes to see and ears to hear, it is clear that this message is either not being heard or is rejected by the vast majority of the populace.
Because many of the attitudes that contribute to this problem are deeply ingrained in the American psyche, it may seem an insurmountable task to overcome. However, looking at the strategies that have been employed by the enemies of freedom is both instructive and provides a much needed ray of hope for lovers of liberty.
Because there was indeed a time when Franklinâ€™s wisdom was recognized and embraced, and the idea of being dependent upon the state was repugnant to the majority, let us examine how these attitudes were usurped. Such changes, to be effected across a large population, require patience and persistence. As individuals we may make drastic and sudden changes as we experience moments of inspiration, but such is not the case for the population as a whole. Removing a love of liberty and independence from our national character has been a multi-generational effort, and unfortunately restoring those values is unlikely to be a short-term endeavor. Indeed, many have already been struggling valiantly in this war of ideas for decades.
One of the first institutions taken over by the enemies of freedom was our centers of education. Having a captive audience for a large portion of their day during thirteen or more of their most formative years was a cornerstone of the advance of statistsâ€™ goals. Aspects of a liberal education, such as philosophy, logic, and reasoning were minimized, and the importance of training students to be prepared to enter the workforce as â€śproductive citizensâ€ť became the emphasis. This provided a double benefit for those who would be our masters â€“ a well-trained workforce who in many ways lacked the capacity or even the desire to evaluate nebulous concepts such as liberty.
It is clear that our focus must be on the coming generation. We must either reform our schools or remove our children from them. We have a duty to ensure that the ill-conceived notions being pushed through the education system are countered, and that liberty is both understood and valued. We must look to long term solutions to problems that were many decades in the making. While we must exert every effort in every battle that we face immediately, we must also be persistent and patient, using education and not violence to throw off our chains.
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