Virtue - Liberty's Root
- Tuesday, July 03, 2001
The best way to understand liberty is by reading the words of those who fought for it.
In exercising our rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," we probably spend most of our time concentrating on the "life" and "happiness" clauses.
But how often do we focus on the pursuit of liberty? In fact, as a nation of people freed from the various constraints placed upon our ancestors, what does the continual pursuit of liberty mean to us?
Perhaps the best way to understand an intangible concept like liberty would be to consider the words of those who paid the greatest price to establish it: our founding fathers. They certainly knew what they fought for, just as we should understand how to maintain it.
"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."
~ Benjamin Franklin
"Liberty can no more exist without virtue and independence than the body can live and move without a soul."
~ John Adams
"The institution of delegated power implies that there is a portion of virtue and honor among mankind which may be a reasonable foundation of confidence."
~ Alexander Hamilton
"[A] free government . . . cannot be supported without virtue."
~ Samuel Williams
". . .We believed that man was a rational animal, endowed by nature with rights, and with an innate sense of justice . . . We believed that . . . wisdom and virtue were not hereditary."
~ Thomas Jefferson
". . . We shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, an who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle . . . is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave . . . Almighty God -- I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
~ Patrick Henry
As America's history has endured conflict, it is the character of individuals that has made the difference. As explained by the words etched across the front of the the Marine Corp's Iwo Jima Memorial: Uncommon valor was a common virtue.
To uphold the liberty that has made America grow from a national experiment to a viable force in this world, we must begin by extolling all aspects of virtue in our own lives. May your 4th of July be full of virtue, because, as it is told in Proverbs 14:34:
"Righteousness exalts a nation."
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