They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Liberty. The foundation of the American Dream. Life. Liberty. And the Pursuit of Happiness. Through our figurative and literal blood courses the dreams and legacy of our forefathers. The legacy of these same daring men who challenged taxation without representation, who sacrificed their lives for a cause greater than themselves, is echoed in our lives today. Suggest to any American over the age of 10 that we should go back to having a king or to any tax payer we should give all our money to the government for them to distribute and you will be laughed at, mocked, and perhaps threatened.
The value of liberty is an essential part of who we are as a nation. Yet, we have changed. No longer to kids roam freely on the streets to find the next adventure. No longer do children learn to fail from a young age. No longer do we talk of duty, honor, and sacrifice. Instead, our lives are managed, controlled, and planned from the day we are born. Many of us shudder to think of our lives without the convenience (necessity?) of smart phones, Internet, house alarms, and more.
There exists a constant tension between liberty and safety. With our love of liberty comes rules of conduct – my liberty cannot infringe upon your safety. Ideas are dangerous and yet we hold fast to our liberty to express ideas – even dangerous ones.
I love adrenaline. I love the gut-dropping feeling when you first jump off a cliff into water. I love the rush of competition when I feel my heart beating faster and my muscles twitching in anticipation of the next play. I will risk the safety of my physical body to make a play. Why? Because the glory of success is greater than a bruise or broken bone. If this is true in sports, how much more so in life?
In this same vein, there are ideas, causes, truths worth risking our lives; to stand for freedom against oppression like Malala Yousafzai, to die for an unknown people like Jim Elliot. In our quest for safety, equality, and sameness we have sacrificed liberty, danger, uniqueness. We forget the legacy of the men and women who gave their lives for a cause greater than they could even comprehend.
If we are to thrive as individuals and a nation we must remember their legacy and we must fight for liberty – even at the expense of safety. We must be willing to give ourselves for something bigger than ourselves and to sacrifice our lives, figuratively and literally, for people we do not know.
When I read biographies of the men and women who sacrificed their lives for an idea there is a common thread throughout each of their lives. This thread is the overwhelming greatness of an idea, a movement larger than life. An idea, a truth so wonderful it is worth everything. What is your idea? What truth do you follow, without which, life would be devoid of purpose? Are you willing to risk your life, figuratively or literally, for this truth?
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.