Restoring liberty

I mentioned a little while ago that “I’m putting the final tweaks on a collection of musings about this topic, you know, the topic about certain, unalienable rights and the unpleasant folks who fight tooth and nail to take those rights away.”

At the time I was still wrestling with what to call the darn thing. With freedom and liberty under attack from all fronts, I flirted with titles like Freedom Elegy, and I considered bland titles like Essays on Liberty, and I even made a cover with just the title Freedom on it.

I think I’ve settled on the title I attached to a post the other day, and even a subtitle: Echoes of Freedom Past: Reopening, Reclaiming and Restoring Liberty. The first two words are from a blog post I wrote in the early days of the pandemic when it looked like the draconian measures were starting to lift a little, “Reopening and reclaiming.”

But then, “Restoring Liberty”?

How do you restore what has, in reality, never been gone? 

Let’s go back to the Declaration: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Got that? “Created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” that is to say, they have been yours from the moment you were created. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are “unalienable” rights, that is to say, it is a violation to infringe on these. 

Be that as it may, of course, depriving people of their unalienable rights is commonplace these days, especially via government fiat, and it is necessary to reclaim these rights and restore a culture of respect for them. How do we do that?

Folks like Henry David Thoreau, Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. taught a spirit of noncooperation with unjust laws. Thoreau refused to pay a poll tax to protest slavery, declaring “I cannot for an instant recognize … as my government [that] which is the slave’s government also.” Gandhi led a march to the seashore to gather salt in defiance of a salt tax that imposed a jail term on anyone who dared make salt for themselves. King was jailed for leading peaceful protests against racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Restaurants and other businesses that refused to close, and even people who declined to wear a cloth mask, were publicly reviled and chastised during the pandemic even in the face of clear evidence the COVID-19 virus was going to infect its share of people no matter what the government ordered. There was negligible difference in the number of cases reported in states and nations that locked citizens down and those that allowed citizens to live their lives freely. The harder and longer government pressed, the more obvious it appeared that the orders had more to do with imposing its will than protecting health. 

Even so, many would-be leaders were loathe to lift the restrictions, and they and their sycophants work to this day to to suppress dissent from the party line. But that’s how you restore rights: By exercising them — speaking out, assembling peaceably, and refusing to cooperate with laws that blatantly infringe on them.

A common trait of political beasts is that once they have passed a law or tax, even a bad one, they will resist repeal with every fiber of their being. Once a right is taken away, getting it back becomes a daunting task. Close to two years after we began to reopen, some of the restrictions and government presumptions have still not been lifted, and some may be permanent, or as permanent as bad law ever can be.

It’s up to us to live, be free, and pursue happiness even when — or perhaps especially when — it means defying those who would deny us those rights.

And so, the book’s title will be Echoes of Freedom Past: Reopening, Reclaiming and Restoring Liberty. I still expect to make it available by the first day of summer. In fact, I submitted the materials Saturday with a publication date of June 21, so assuming all goes well, you’ll be able to pre-order yours before then.

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