05 February 2007

"Rights" Part IV - Liberty

Liberty as an inherent right of all men is one of the concepts the United States was founded upon. Along with Life and the Pursuit of Happiness, Liberty is something which must be afforded to all people being governed.

But, what does liberty mean? According to dictionary.com, the primary definition is, “freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control.”

One thing to note about that definition is that it doesn’t indicate something being given to the one liberated. On the contrary, the person is being freed from “arbitrary or despotic” systems. This does not mean that, for the liberated person, government and law aren’t needed. It does imply that the liberated person has a stake, and interest, and a responsibility in the governance of his society. By taking away something (the crush of despotism), liberty demands something (self and societal responsibility).

These “unalienable rights,” to quote the Declaration of Independence, have a tendency to demand something for their gifts…they come with a price. Indeed, all “rights” do. Given the demands of liberty, the choice is quite straight-forward: self-responsibility or submission to another to control the self.

No comments: