I believe that the many difficulties facing our nation come down to a single root problem – the unwillingness of people to take responsibility for their actions.
One of the things which the founders of this nation were accutely aware of and which we seem to have forgotten is that freedom isn’t really free. The price of freedom is responsibility.
Everyone wants a better life and wants to enjoy the benefits of society, but it’s human nature to want to get the best deal and get your liberties at a discount. The problem is that most of us got freedom at no cost when we were born, and don’t realize that it actually has value until after we trade it away for the things we want.
The catch to this is that if you don’t pay for the benefits of society by accepting responsibility you pay for them in other ways. You trade away little bits of freedom to get the priveleges which government chooses to grant you in exchange. You go from being a free individual to becoming a client of the state.
Responsibility is scary. It means not being able to blame someone else when something goes wrong for you. It’s a lot easier to give up the responsibility and give up your freedom with it for the guiltless security and protection of a higher power.
In the society which America has become, we have given up many of our freedoms for the protection of government, and we expect government to give back priveleges and benefits in exchange. People are right to cry for their entitlements and government programs. They paid the highest price for them. What they didn’t realize when they paid that price was that government has overhead – it has politicians and bureaucrats to feed. It never gives back as much as it takes, be it money or benefits.
Can you stand up and say that you choose not to take drugs, that you will pay your own way, that you will fight for your nation if called on, that you will work to better yourself and your community? If you can do these things for yourself, then maybe you don’t need government to do them for you. If you can take responsibility, maybe you deserve to have your freedom back.
The trick is going to be getting that freedom back. Once government has something it’s awfully tenacious. It’s going to be harder to take freedom back than it would have been to keep it in the first place, and the longer you wait to take action the more the process of entropy eats away at those freedoms you have left.
Because we’re a society, to some degree freedom is held in common. Each person who chooses to surrender freedom and responsibility to the government gives up a little of your liberty as well. By the same measure, each person who sits complacently and does nothing to take back their rights makes it a little bit harder for you to regain your freedom.
There may have been a time long ago, when defending your freedom was an act of individualism, but today it will demand the much more difficult task of going beyond accepting individual responsibility to awakening society – your friends and neighbors – to the freedom they have lost and the hard price they have to pay to regain it.