What is liberty, anyway? I guarantee that once you begin to grasp the concept of liberty, you will be ready to address the second question: How do I attain and maintain liberty?
A Word About Meaning
Meaning is a powerful thing. It is fundamental to culture and has great power to affect people and change lives. Most of what people do in school, college, business, advertising, and many other fields can be boiled down to giving words meaning. Therefore, it is always essential to ask “what does this mean?”
That is what we want to do with the word “liberty.” First, we must fill it with meaning. Then, we can use it as a powerful tool to affect change.
Warning! There is also a danger from some people who will tell you what something means, but they are lying or misconstruing the whole truth. That is called indoctrination. That is why we will engage in a process of discovery, to figure out what liberty really means and also what it does not mean. You must figure out the truth yourself.
What is liberty?
Many dictionaries point to different senses of a definition of liberty. All of them could be boiled down to this phrase: Freedom from restraint. That applies to any form of outside control or restrictions. However, as we will learn, there is much more to liberty.
Here is a simple definition of liberty, not to satisfy all questions about it, but rather to open the door to discovering more:
Liberty is the opportunity to make a choice to assume responsibility and accept the consequences.
This raises so many questions!
Let’s examine what that means more closely.
the opportunity to make a choice
In order to have liberty, you must first have opportunity, and options or choices. Now, everyone has choices—some more than others—and the choices can often be reduced to “what is right?” or “what is wrong?” When we think in terms of right and wrong, we are already defeating one of liberty’s biggest enemies: pluralism. I’ll expand on that later. For now, right and wrong will lead to the next part:
to assume responsibility and accept the consequences
There are obviously two big things to address here, but you will see that they are quite inseparable. Responsibility is so pivotal. For now we will acknowledge that responsibility means taking ownership.
Once you have made your choice, you do not shrink away from it but rather take ownership of that choice, and you accept good consequences or bad consequences. Ultimately, if you have made the right choice, the long-term consequences will be blessings and joy, whereas bad choices ultimately always lead to to suffering and bad consequences. Only people with quality character will see past the immediate appeal of making a wrong choice and choose the long-term benefit of a good choice.
Living with liberty is a lifestyle that is simultaneously challenging and rewarding. Take the challenge to be a person of liberty, and it will change your life, your family, and your community! Everyone has choices. Will you choose to love liberty, and accept the consequences?