Benjamin Franklin once said: “Those who would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Recently I have come to realize just what this means on a personal level.
Liberty is the freedom to make your own decisions and to accept responsibility for those decisions. When you give up essential liberty, you give the power of choice to another. When someone else controls your choices, you can never have safety or security because the choice is no longer in your hands. You have given it up and placed your security in the hands of another who can change his/her mind on a whim and take away your liberty at any moment with a mere word.
When others make your decisions for you, you can never have either security or liberty.
But why are we so quick to relinquish our freedom of choice? Giving your freedom of choice to another means trying to give responsibility for your decisions to another. We give away our liberty or freedom to choose because we fear the consequences of our actions and want someone else to face those consequences for us and take the responsibility that we are unwilling to bear.
The problem with this type of reasoning is that we can never hide from the consequences of our actions, whether they be delegated to another, or owned. We never really cede our choices to others. We merely accept their choices as our own. A non-choice is really a choice in and of itself.
This leaves us with the inescapable conclusion that we cannot run and we cannot hide from choice. At some point in time, we will face what we are running from. We either cower in fear and allow that fear to overwhelm us, let others make our decisions for us, in which case we have given away both our liberty and our safety, or embrace true freedom and liberty by making our own decisions, accepting responsibility for our own actions, and facing the consequences of our own decisions head on even if we are quaking in our boots in fear.
“Nothing is so much to be feared as fear”. – Henry David Thoreau, 1851
It is not that we will not fear. Not fearing is unnatural. It is how we handle that fear that makes us who we are. True warriors of liberty will stand their ground even if it appears that the ground is falling out from under their feet. Running will not help, hiding will not help. If the ground is to fall, then it will fall. It is how you face that fall that counts and it is how you face your fear that will determine if you will remain on your feet and rise to the challenge, or crumble in a heap and wither away to nothing.
True bravery is not the absence of fear at all. It is standing while fear is surrounding you on all sides and beckoning you to give in to it and self destruct.
©2016 Barbara H. Peterson