Lanterns: What is freedom?


What is freedom?

Do you really believe in freedom?

The word, freedom, has become so cheapened that nowadays you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who can truly define and stand up for an idea so profound, so bold, as this thing we call freedom. Even more insulting is the fact that there are people in this world using the word “freedom,” when instead, they mean revenge. 

If you say something I disagree with, then I should be able to shame you, shut you down, and ruin your life. God forbid, I take a moment to consider a different point of view or have an honest conversation. God forbid, I take just one second to not make everything about me. 

I doubt the Founding Fathers would be so proud of the way people throw around the word “freedom” around today, tainting its definition to fit a more nefarious purpose. 

If we’re going to understand it, though, then we have to ask ourselves a few questions.

What does freedom really mean?


There are multiple ways to answer this, but let me try to be as clear and succinct as possible. Freedom, in essence, means that we are able to live and do as we see fit, without the government ruling over every aspect of our lives. It means we should be able to speak our mind without being shut down. It means we should be able to serve whichever God we choose, as long as we aren’t forcing someone else to do the same. 

Freedom isn’t anarchy; however, the difference is that there are universal laws that we must abide by (murder is wrong, theft is wrong, cheating is wrong, and so forth). The Founders believed in freedom. They also knew that man, in his natural state, is selfish and evil, just as government is. Without checks and balances, the whole concept of freedom is null and void.

Where does freedom come from?


Does it come from the government? Obviously, the answer is no. If something so important as freedom is allowed to be given by a group of bureaucratic men and women, secluded from reality in their posh offices and sanctuaries of power, then it really isn’t that important at all. If they have the power to grant us freedom, then they also have the power to take it away which means we never possessed it in the first place.

Does it come from protests and revolution in the streets? No. History has seen all kinds of movements, both peaceful and violent, that led to more strife, chaos, death, and ultimately, more control by the government. Movements come and go. They rise from the sentiment of those put in a place of despair; but how long will those movements last before the next generation changes its mind?  

If freedom is to be this important concept it is proclaimed to be, then it must come from somewhere constant, somewhere not influenced by the fickleness of man. It must come from God. God, in His wisdom, allowed man to rule himself, but not by himself. We’ve seen what happens to those countries who abandon God and turn to secular humanism and progressivism to achieve selfish ambition. 

The Founders knew that if man were to be free, then man must ultimately, be both a servant of God and a servant of one another. They knew this when they wrote the last line of the Declaration of Independence, which states: “[W]ith a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” 

To truly understand freedom, you have to understand how bold and radical those words are. A group of men, at the time in the minority, decided to disrupt thousands of years of human history to be free. Over two centuries have passed. Are we willing to make the same pledge today?

Whom does freedom protect?


It protects the farmer trying to grow a crop and survive in a risky business to provide for his family and make a living. It protects the police officer who risks his life every day to protect the men and women who love them and the ones who hate them. It protects the homosexual who wants to live his or her life freely without forcing another to agree with or support their lifestyle. It protects the Muslim who wants to reform Islam and not institute Sharia law onto the masses by forcing them to convert. It protects the Christian who wants to own a business and sell to those he or she so chooses, without fear of being shut down for a religious choice or objection. It protects a business from being forced to provide abortion services to its employees, and it protects the American citizen who wants to live freely without being spied upon by their government without a warrant. 

It protects everyone. Or, at least, it’s supposed to.

Is freedom lost?


No, but it is dying. For too long, many have allowed themselves to tune out or give up defending freedom against those who wish to tarnish it while the rest of us fight for it. Today, so many have decided to put agenda over principle, and we’ve seen the results. 

At the same time, I’ve seen examples of people beginning to have a dialogue again about the concept of freedom. Allie Stuckey, a blogger, otherwise known as the Conservative Millennial on TheBlaze, took to the streets recently to ask those in Dallas what their thoughts were on free speech, hate speech, and the First Amendment. Interestingly enough, they all believed it was important to protect free speech for everyone, even those they vehemently disagreed with. 

Mark Levin also asked his radio audience last week what their ideas of freedom were. While there was an array of answers, it all boiled down to this notion that man must be allowed to live and dream as he so chooses, without fear of government tyranny.

If we’re going to bring back true freedom in the way our Founders envisioned it, then we must be bold once again. We must put our faith back in God and not in man alone. 

Long after we’re gone, generations will be faced with these same challenges. Do we want to show them the example of what freedom truly is through a firm foundation? Or will we show them how freedom was lost through selfish ambition? 


Written by Oliver Stephenson

I love talking politics, culture, and entertainment. I'm a huge fan of Star Wars and talk radio.

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