British Prime Minister Winston Churchill died 54 years ago, last month. He saw and did more in one life than most could do in a hundred. He once observed: “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”
Today, we are missing leaders who understand these principles, or the history behind them. That is the danger of our time. Take them in order. Pause on these timeless, binding guides to a prosperous future.
Freedom is not about being unaccountable, reckless or irresponsible with lives of others – or your own. It has never been about indulgence, damning and endangering others, forcing others to do or think as we do, condemning differences that do no violence to our own.
What does this mean? Freedom is not about the right to distribute, promote or abuse drugs – marijuana, cocaine, heroin or opioids – for personal gain, gratification or escape, if doing this hurts others, creates a higher propensity for domestic abuse, drugged driving, emotional burdens, societal violence, or elevated health costs.
Likewise, freedom is not about asserting new rights or identities, pressing one’s views on others through government coercion, violence, or even law suits, if this involves impairing constitutional rights to think, speak, worship, publish and associate freely.
Freedom is not about government at all – except in so far as guaranteeing personal freedoms limits government interference in our lives. Put differently, the freedom worth defending – that noble, simple sort – is about having fewer restrictions on life, only those needed to protect lives, liberty and happiness of other Americans.
Thus, any presidential candidate who advocates legalizing dangerous narcotics to “spread joy,” who lumps people into identity groups instead of seeing them as individuals, who presses modern Americans to pay for ancestral sins, who denies “due process” rights during confirmation hearings, who spikes jobs to advance socialism or is silent as others do, who allows racism in their party but tags others without facts, who models hypocrisy – yet claims to support freedom – does not understand freedom.
Freedom – to speak, worship, associate, publish, and remain un-coerced by an all-powerful government – is what men died for at Yorktown and Saratoga, Gettysburg and Vicksburg, Marne and Verdun, Normandy, Anzio, The Argonne, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Make no mistake. And if you doubt, read their memoirs – there are thousands. They call it history.
They did not die to be told their families would finance luxuries, healthcare and the random obsessions of federal legislators, or those unwilling to work; they did not die to see their nation’s proud moral fiber, historic commitment to personal liberty, freedom of worship impaired or targeted by self-aggrandizing secularists; they did not die to see federal control asserted over their progeny in energy, health care, transportation and education.
Honor – another idea out of style – turns on selflessness, sacrifice for others, risk taken for high purpose, not for personal gain. So, where is the presidential candidate who honors veterans daily,
who honors those in uniform before themselves, who honors working class men and women by creating private sector jobs with lower taxes, fairer trade, higher growth, who honors parents by helping them prevent drug abuse not promoting it, who honors America’s 250 million faithful by not penalizing them for their faith, who honors their antecedents by understanding history?
As for duty, mercy and hope – well, duty is another fading concept, yet one vital to our future. Candidates who fail to appreciate American history fail to understand that duty motivated much of our greatness. Hundreds of millions of selfless Americans placed duty to God, family, town and nation above themselves, in a life-and-death way not a will-o-the-wisp press release.
Mercy – is also vital. It is not welfare, Medicare-for-All, Green-New-Deals that bankrupt our future and salve an “aspirational” candidate’s ego. Mercy is teaching people to work and creating conditions to grow their dreams and the economy – offering self-respect and income, decent jobs for a decent wage, self-respect not moral neglect.
Mercy is remembering the American kids, parents and families who are condemned to hell-on-earth when a candidate advocates legal drugs, open borders, rogue-ridden sanctuary cities, no walls (which means no rule of law) and “everything for nothing.” Mercy is about accountability, responsibility and truth, not the reverse.
And hope? That is what this column means to offer – along with knowledge that deep in our past lies the key to a bright future. We need only remember how we got here, to resume the illuminated path forward. Our Founders, best American leaders, and Churchill knew – what we are intent on forgetting: “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.” Now we must put those words, back into action.