by Julie Watner
From Number 70 – October 1994
Freedom is a mental condition-a condition of the spirit. All of us are free, if we but choose to acknowledge it. To borrow from Rose Wilder Lane, freedom is control of self. The essence of your “self” is your mind, soul, and spirit. We all are always free to change our thoughts, improve our knowledge and understanding, change our attitudes and beliefs-the inner part of each of us. We do need more folks to recognize that they already are FREE!
Liberty is a condition of the physical body: the absence of physical restraints. We seek liberty to use our resources, time, intelligence, and energy in the most beneficial (to us) way.
A productive, healthy society of freedom-and liberty-minded individuals is not to be confused with a libertine one. The conditions of liberty and freedom, above all, require individual responsibility in every phase of life. Each of us must take the consequences of our actions, good and bad. This is not easy, especially with our Big Brother the State standing by to present at least the illusion of “help” with every aspect of our lives.
Because the root of the problem (irresponsibility) is so ingrained, trying to convince others to live the freedom ideas through slogans, speeches, and hype is usually short on results. At best they provide the spark which causes an individual to seek out new information.
The “library of freedom”-books, pamphlets, newspapers, and magazines-not only documents man’s quest from ancient times forward, but also is an important, longer lasting way to spread the word and fan the spark of interest into a flame.
But “plain-Jane” and unexciting as it sounds, I believe the most effective way to spread the freedom idea is to educate ourselves and raise our children to be honest, knowledgeable, confident, responsible lovers of freedom-to light a single candle. If each one of us lights another candle, and each of those follows suit, the freedom ideas will grow from a quiet bonfire to a WILDFIRE engulfing everything in its path.
Living in an environment of liberty and freedom is akin to being a parent-it is the best of times; it is the worst of times. With neither can you ever relax your vigilance, there is always work to be done, you are always being called upon to exercise new skills, and improve upon old ones. There is a tremendous amount of worry involved, also discouragement and uncertainty. On the other hand, it is hard to convey to a non-parent, just as to a statist, the joys, rewards, exhilaration, and satisfactions that make the responsibilities worthwhile. You just have to have faith, jump in, and DO IT!
Editor’s Note: This essay was the winner in a contest sponsored by The Customer Company. The stated object of a one-page essay was to define freedom and suggest the best way to implement it.