Fighting for Freedom
The founders of this country rejected King George III as a ruler because: “A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”* They were willing to fight to preserve the freedom granted to them by their Creator. They deemed it was their inalienable right.
There are a number of freedoms we could easily wish for: freedom to binge on ice cream and not get fat; freedom to play endless video games and still do well in school. These wishes, however, ignore the essential prerequisites to achieving those goals. Such “freedom” is based on the false hope that we can obtain our chosen end result without doing the prerequisites to earn it. This would be to disconnect cause from effect—to permit us to obtain the effect we wanted without first causing it. We would not have to exercise to be strong; we would not have to diet to lose weight.
This false belief is at the bottom of many political promises. A result is promised—fair income, quality medical care for all, clean air, a reversal of global warming—yet there is little or no discussion on how to get there and of how horribly expensive achieving these goals would be. It is as though stating the goal were enough. That is like wishing to become thin.
Cause and Effect
Unfortunately mortal life is one long lesson that cause and effect are irrevocably connected. Toddlers learn that bad balance results in falls. Piano students learn a lack of practice results in embarrassment at the next recital. College graduates learn that regardless of how much fun a particular major may have been, to get hired after graduation you need a skill that will earn your employer more than he or she is paying you.
There is no freedom to choose final results. There is only freedom to choose what actions—causes—we can take to get there. You cannot choose to be an Olympic swimmer. You can only choose to make the effort—day after day, year after year—to prepare to be one. But if you make that effort then you will be “free” to compete at that highest level. If you earn a Class A CDL you are “free” to drive a tractor trailer. If you earn a J.D. and pass the bar exam you are “free” to practice law. The freedom to achieve those results comes only because you have chosen to fulfill the prerequisites. We are free to choose goals, but the real choice is to do what is required to obtain those goals.
Truth Leads to Freedom
False information results in bad choices because it misdirects our efforts into causes that will not lead to the results we seek. The ability to make choices that will achieve worthwhile goals depends upon having sufficient correct information to choose correct actions. Free people are free to choose, but that freedom is nullified if they are ignorant. When the German people heard only a steady chorus of how glorious would be the Nazi Third Reich they made choices that resulted in the utter devastation of their country. Had they known the truth about where Hitler was leading them few would have followed.
Carved in the lobby floor of the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia are the words: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”** This is profoundly true for a democracy where the choices voters make will determine their—and their posterity’s—future. If voters are misinformed then they will inevitably make bad choices which, also inevitably, will lead to bad results. Tyrants always silence dissent. They always hide their failures. They pretend their subjects are free—knowing that by controlling access to the truth they can lock the country into the selfishly directed trajectory they have chosen. Enemies of freedom are always enemies of truth.
Examine current news: the glaring absence of answers to basic questions on Benghazi, IRS mistreatment of conservative groups, V.A. misadministration—the list grows weekly. Deceit cripples our ability to decide. Freedom of Speech and Press were intended to give us access to that truth. Congress—particularly the party not in power—was intended to hold the Executive accountable and give us that truth. Both are failing in their Constitutional duty. We want the truth! Armed with the truth and the freedom of choice we as a nation can make correct choices and get correct results. But only when we know the truth.
* Declaration of Independence
** John 8:32