The Fayette Citizen-Opinion Page
Wednesday, June 30, 1999
How do you define 'freedom'?

The Amy Foundation

In his recent appearance on Meet the Press, Bill Bennett commented that something is radically wrong with a nation in which students can, with impunity, walk the halls of a school building shouting, “Heil, Hitler!”, while other students can be taken to the principal's office for walking those same halls shouting praises to Almighty God.

Something is, indeed, radically wrong. When our forefathers established the Republic of the United States of America, they envisioned a country in which freedom and peace would prevail. In fact, one of the reasons for the establishment of our Constitution, as stated in the preamble of this august document, was to “insure domestic tranquility.”

Yet the swelling turmoil of the closing half of this century has made a mockery of this Constitutional imperative. For what we have been witnessing in our land is not the promotion of domestic tranquility but, on the contrary, the promotion of domestic tyranny.

While there are many reasons for such a sad turn of events, I would propose that one of the chief reasons has to do with our present culture's understanding of the word freedom.

Freedom can be defined as that state of being which is characterized by a knowledge of absolute truth and a responsible adherence to and application of that truth.

The key word here is responsible, for without responsibility, there can be no freedom. There can be only license. Indeed, Webster defines license as “freedom...used with irresponsibility.” License, in reality, is false freedom. Such is the state of affairs in which our culture presently finds itself.

We are a culture in which the term freedom has become synonymous with license. The two words, however, are not interchangeable. On the contrary, they are diametrically opposed. For whereas freedom leads to tranquility, license leads to tyranny.

Like every other good and worthwhile thing in life, freedom exacts a price. That price is the sacrifice of the self — the putting aside of doing what feels good in order to do what is right. Freedom requires laying aside expediency and taking up the standards of duty and honor.

Throughout the history of this great country of ours, there have been men and women who have willingly and gladly paid that price, even to the point of death. When, however, the price of freedom is not paid, license ensues, and license left unabated leads to tyranny.

In order for a society to be free, it must be built on internal discipline. Doing what is right instead of doing what feels good requires internal discipline. Failure to exercise internal discipline will inevitably necessitate external discipline and, eventually, produce a tyrannical state.

Jesus Christ pointed to the only source of true freedom: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). It is the knowledge and application of absolute truth — God's truth — that alone will guarantee freedom and, in so doing, insure domestic tranquility.

This concept our forefathers understood well and built our country on it. More than 100 years ago, English clergyman Charles Kingsley said, “There are two freedoms, the false where one is free to do what he likes, and the true where he is free to do what he ought.”

If we are to continue to live in true freedom in these United States of America, we must turn away from the false freedom that is license, and we must return to the standards of true freedom to which our founding fathers adhered.

We must realize that unless we stop doing what we please and begin doing what is right, we may soon slip unawares into the fearsome and stifling clutches of tyranny.

Then, to our horror, it will be too late.

[“Real Answers” furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or e-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091; Visit the website at


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