(Part 2, originally posted on June 19, 2009)
How often do we take many of our most precious founding ideas for granted? I think liberty is one such concept that is know, but often not appreciated. I recently finished classes, and one of my last assignments was about censorship and what might feelings were. I used several quotes from John Stewart Mill from his book, ironically, On Liberty. He states,
“We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still….The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race…those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”
I love the language, the power, the sheer energy behind these words because they show an intensity and conviction that is often lacking in today society. Sometimes I think about what life would be like if everyone was good, and most of the problems that currently plague society weren’t around. However, without the opposition, it is difficult to understand what the sweet fruits of liberty are and why they are so important. If you really think about it, that is Heavenly Father’s plan, although it is agency instead of liberty, but they are closely related. Without the opportunity to make choices, and understand that there are consequences attached, it would make life obsolete and without meaning.
Liberty and agency were given to us to use, not to be stuck on the back of a shelf in a closet, but actively fought for. It reminds me of Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty that he erects to remind the people of this very idea. He states, “ In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.” I love that these are the things that Moroni finds so important that he would mention them on a banner, and have people enter into an oath to maintain these privileges. In another chapter, he is talking to the enemy commander and is boldly telling the Lamanite to surrender. He declares, “And now, Zerahemnah, I command you, in the name of that all-powerful God, who has strengthened our arms that we have gained power over you, by our faith, by our religion, and by our rites of worship, and by our church, and by the sacred support which we owe to our wives and our children, by that liberty which binds us to our lands and our country; yea, and also by the maintenance of the sacred word of God, to which we owe all our happiness; and by all that is most dear unto us— Yea, and this is not all; I command you by all the desires which ye have for life…”. No one speaks boldly like that anymore, but is how we should declare our beliefs and feelings. I think freedom and liberty are something that we should take an active role in understanding and defending. It is part of our responsibility as human beings to help our fellow brothers and sisters, and give others the same privileges that we are blessed to have.
We all have the gift of liberty, so use that gift and don’t forget how important this philosophy is. Use your liberty to vote, to be happy, to love others, and to change the world. There are so many who are counting on us to be great and to make the difference for good. Don’t ever stop fighting for the right to exercise your liberty and be the person you are supposed to be. Try something new today and use your liberty; tell someone you love them; and just live your life to its fullest.