William R. Collier Jr- What is freedom, and what does it mean to be a freedomist, someone who advocates and works for freedom for themselves and their fellow man?
One dictionary definition that seems to depict the spirit of the West reads- the power to think, act, and think as one wishes without constraint.
But another definition would say- the state or quality of being exempt from something onerous.
But what about the power to shape the kind of culture and society in which you live in accordance with your values? What about freedom from privation or injustice?
What we see when the subject of freedom rises is a one-dimensional view of freedom. For instance, the first definition is totally focused on the individual acting by and for themselves alone, it defies the biological and spiritual reality of humanity as social beings who must live and act socially just to survive. Who is born alone and who could even survive the first year in life without other people feeling the need to care for a little one who can offer them nothing in exchange for their sacrifice?
Almost all these one-dimensional definitions contain a kernel of truth but offer a very limited application or an impossible, almost utopian, standard which has never been accomplished and cannot ever be accomplished given human nature and the laws of nature and of God. For instance, how can I do whatever I like if it would tend to harm myself or others, or if it would undermine some societal institution necessary for our very survival as a species? How can I shape my culture in a community in which not everyone has the same beliefs and values?
A more mature and advanced view of freedom is multi-dimensional and develops a matrix of ideas and ideals which one can use to measure whether a general condition of freedom exists generally or whether a less free or unfree condition exists. For instance, we may say that white men in the 18th century may have been more free than they are now, but not everyone in general was so free. And yet today we can say most people are little more free than chattel slaves in that same era, although we have the fiction of voting and a limited free speech, and, also, we tend to choose our slavery as we follow the pop culture ethos that is spoon-fed to us. (In other words, most of us CAN be much more free.)
Today’s African Americans may argue that the legal end of slavery has not given them equal freedom, but it can also be argued that, as with socialism and wealth, the trend is toward an equality in which few of us will be allowed to be free.
As Freedomists we speak of “freedom as defined by the original spirit and intent of the Bill of Rights “, and of course we mean that for everyone, for every member of the human race. But even this has a deeper root, which we find in Acts 17: that men would be able to find God if haply they seek Him, though He is not far from any of us. This also means that men are free not to seek God, and to them and their associations go the consequences!
Freedom also has an expression through four core ideals, we call them the UPDR Ideals, from the first letter for each of the ideals. These are the spiritual constitution of America in its original intent, they embody the original spirit and intent of the Bill of Rights, and they provide an objective standard of measure by which we can declare something more free or less free in its operation.
These ideals include Unity in diversity, Popular sovereignty, Democratic equality, and Rule of law. When we understand them from a JudeoChristian perspective and that they must each balance the others, we gain an insight as to their meaning which is deeper than the cliche’d where they are often presented. You have heard these ideals, perhaps you recoil at one or two because of how they have been used.
But notice each is a sort of ying and yang unto itself. Notice also, we are saying that none of these ideals can contradict the other, but only bring balance. The unity of a shared set of beliefs and values is balanced by the diversity of convictions among individuals and communities within the whole. The popular rights of self-determination and collective self-preservation are balanced by the sovereignty of the individual and their own free associations. The democracy of a common consensus is balanced by the inherit equality of value and standing we all have as individuals before God and our standing together according to our merit. The rule or means of enforcement owned by all and usually practiced through some sort of leadership is bound by the laws of nature and of nature’s God as understood by the people under that rule and for the good of all (although there are objective laws enforced by causality).
(Note: A society or community, even a nation and civilization, of people that orders itself in way that violates the laws of nature and of God will endure causal consequences, but that doesn’t mean any human agency can claim to be the final arbiter or judge of these matters, on the other hand nobody should be compelled to remain under the influence or control of such a society.)
All of this opens the door for each person to find and fulfill God’s best for their life, if they wish. Through this, ideally, every one has an equal and fair chance to make their calling their career and, mostly through free association, shape their own culture and society according to their values but within a broader society in which those ideas can be challenged.
It is not hard to define freedom with one single definition, it is one-dimensional to think of something so grand and vast as freedom in such simplistic terms. If we say freedom is defined as the original spirit and intent of the US Bill of Rights, as applied to every human being and through the practice of the UPDR Ideals, we have something more closely approximating what freedom is. The domain of the free- this is the heart of freedom. Free people are not slaves to debauchery, addiction, their own flesh, the tyranny or control of others, or even the vicissitudes of nature! But we cannkt impose that freedom on them. The domain of the free is a state of mind and a state of being, and if we use the original spirit and intent of the US Bill of Rights, along with a disciplined application of the UPDR Ideals, we make freedom real, accessible, and measureable.
On this Indepdnence Day, let us be free, truly free, not in some shallow or cliche’d manner, but with maturity, intelligence, and discipline. Let us actualize the original spirit and intent of the Bill of Rights in our lives through the daily use of the UPDR Ideals!