Civil liberties, freedom, and responsibility

Civil Liberty & Responsibility—A Reflection On Freedom

By Lauren Gideon

            “Freedom can exist only in the society of knowledge. Without learning, men are incapable of knowing their rights.”

Benjamin Rush

Don’t Take Liberty for Granted

Civil liberty and air travel have something in common. They are both widely taken for granted.

Have you ever considered what the advent of air travel was like? No longer were people bound by the limitations that accompanied ground and water travel. Moreover, for this to be possible, there required a great deal of compounded disciplines. Consider geology and meteorology, as well as the laws of gravity and motion all have great authority in this sphere. This type of freedom didn’t spontaneously develop itself, and it isn’t independent from the laws that govern it nor the responsibility to know and apply those laws.

Civil liberty isn’t much different. In some regards, modern Americans were born into this freedom in the same way that they were born into the age of air travel. We can easily take for granted all the education and application that liberated humanity in both manifestations of “freedom,” but just as there will be consequences if our society neglects the laws of nature as it pertains to air travel, there are consequences when free people neglect the laws that govern freedom and civil society. 

Not only is this a civil and ethical issue; it is also a moral one. We know the laws written in nature come from the ultimate Law Giver. We know humans are blessed with dignity by merit of their imago Dei. To deny the laws of liberty, which require us to respect individual dignity, is to deny the authority of The Law Giver.

Consider the Creator’s Acknowledgment in our Declaration of Independence

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

Don’t take your freedom for granted. Ignorantia Juris Non Excusat (“Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse”). At the end of the day, we, too, want to be good stewards and benevolent citizens to our neighbors and our posterity. How well do we each understand and take responsibility for spreading this knowledge?

           “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more”.

Luke 12:48b ESV

Read Lauren’s other articles.

Lauren Gideon profile smiling at the camera

Lauren Gideon is the Director of Public Relations for Classical Conversations®. She co-leads and teaches through an organization committed to raising citizenship I.Q. on U.S. founding documents. She and her husband homeschool their seven children on their small acreage, where they are enjoying their new adventures in homesteading.