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It's A Gray Area: Why liberty is so important to us

January 08, 2011|By James P. Gray

The response to last week's column asking our politicians to dare to lead and dare to lose was substantial, and mostly positive. The column closed by commenting that there is nothing wrong with our country that cannot be resolved by us once again becoming Americans!

But what does that really mean? The column last week also said that we became great by our own grit, and by respecting and enforcing private property rights and free trade, and that's certainly true. But fundamentally none of these things would have been effective without liberty. Therefore, when it comes down to it, the strength of America is our liberties.

So that necessarily brings up the question, what is liberty, and why is it so important? The formal definition generally is that liberty gives a person freedom from despotic or arbitrary rule or control. More specifically, liberty gives a person freedom from undue interference by government or anyone else. To look at the impacts of liberty in more depth, I recommend that you read the recently-released book "Why Liberty: Personal Journeys Toward Peace and Freedom," (Cobden Press, Apple Valley, 2010). This book, edited by Marc Guttman, provides the opportunity for 54 different authors to tell their stories about how liberty works where virtually nothing else does.

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The first story was written by an African American who discusses a time when he raised his voice in anger while arguing that since blacks had been taken advantage of for so many years, somebody had to pay! Whereupon an older black man, who eventually became his mentor, simply smiled and said: "I don't want nobody's help. Just get out of my way and I can do it myself."

The author never forgot those words, and by following them, he became successful. Then as he grew older, those words became his mantra, because he realized the truth that only he could effectively control his own destiny. And that is what liberty allowed him to do.

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