Liberte, Egalite, Fraternitie. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Often when we look upon these mottos of two of the three great revolutions, the French and the American (the third of course being the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia), we often feel they are comparable and born of the same mother, the so-called Enlightenment. We certainly have been taught this in school, and it is true to an extent. The desire for man to be free is inherent in us. But how and by what means we attain that freedom is often the deciding factor in whether we really become free, or exchange one slave master for another. That is where the mottos of these revolutions show us why one failed, and descended into unspeakable horror and bloodshed, and the other, with all its imperfections, succeeded and became the greatest democracy in world history.
I think we only need look at the first word of each motto. The leaders of the French Revolution obviously saw Liberty as the first and highest goal. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen states:
“Liberty consists of being able to do anything that does not harm others: thus, the exercise of the natural rights of every man or woman has no bounds other than those that guarantee other members of society the enjoyment of these same rights.”
This is not true freedom, but merely license. The belief that we should have the ability to do whatever we wish as long, as it does not hurt others, is a fundamental misunderstanding of where our freedom originates. The term “rights” is thrown around liberally these days. We supposedly have a “right” to a job, to health care, and recently a Federal court claimed that a state constitution granted persons of the same sex the right to marry one another. Nevertheless, the American Founding Fathers understood that no real freedom, no true rights, can be understood if we do not understand that the right to Life is the first and most important right. They understood this because they understood that it is only God, the Creator, who has granted us the rights stated in the Constitution. John Adams stated:
“We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.“
Adam and the other member of the Continental Congress, even those engaged in the heinous slave trade, understood that it is not the state that gives us our freedom, by allowing us to do this or that, but that all rights flow from our creation in the image and likeness of God.
Today genuine religious expression and belief is actively pushed from political life. We see the view of our rights shared by Adams and Jefferson being overturned and replaced with something more in common with the French radicals of the 1700’s, rather than with the Founding Fathers, or with what generations of Americans have believed. How else does one explain Barack Obama’s claim that those who attend church are “bitter” or John Edwards’ statement, during one of the numerous primary debates, that his religious views would not influence how he would govern as President? Such statements would have been unimaginable to any generation of American leaders, other than the ’68 Generation and its progeny.
This is why the respect and love of life is replaced by the exaltation of “choice.” No longer is Life the first right. It has been replaced by the Right to Choose, in other words Liberte; the right to do whatever we wish “as long as it does not hurt anyone else.” Since “God is dead” or, if not dead, then loves us “just the way we are,” we decide what is right and wrong. We are “like gods who know what is good and what is bad.” (Genesis 3:5)
In my next post I will talk about the road down which such thinking may lead this nation.