PHIL'S PHILOSOPHY By; D.P Kinkade Contributions By; Taylor & Drake Kinkade
GIVE ME LIBERTY
Patrick Henry is attributed with the famous and perhaps infamous quote, (at least at the time he made it,) “Give me liberty or give me death!” As a youth, someone once told me that this statement was made by Mr Henry while facing the choice of remaining loyal to a controlling country from across the sea, or execution and that Patrick had chose the latter rather than live in a land without liberty. I do not remember who told me this story but they must have had some authority, for I believed it for a long time, until I became curious enough to do some research on my own.
Patrick Henry actually made that statement as part of a much longer speech, given at St John's church in Richmond Virginia, to the Virginia convention, in the year 1775. I said that the quote was perhaps infamous because it was given during the birth of this nation and it was really a call for others to join him in insurrection and revolution against an authoritarian regime, bent on keeping this new, upstart country in subjection to a king.
I don't have room,(or the inclination) to reprint his entire speech but if you're a history buff, you should look it up and if you are not in to history, I ask the simple question; why not? Everything we are, all our innovations, all our ideas and ideals, all our accomplishments and even all we hope to become, is built on history, so everyone should take at least some interest in history. Anyway, here is the last bit of the speech, which includes that famous line- Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace! But there is no peace- the war has actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the cost of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!
What is it about -liberty- why is it such an inspiring force that virtually all our founding fathers and most of our personal, direct ancestors, sought it so voraciously and defended it with fervor? First off, what is the definition of liberty anyway,? It is similar to freedom but not exactly. I guess the most simple definition of liberty would be- without restraint- whereas freedom would be more like- not owned by anything or anyone.
Liberty is the foundation of all societies built on democracy. In a society where liberty and freedom are valued and wisdom is not seen as sole providence of an elite few, it can be summed up in these few words- “Of the People, By the People, and For the People!” A democratic society is in direct opposition to monarchy or oligarchy. In other words it is the polar opposite of Authoritarianism.
Our nation is still an experiment in democracy. We have not been around long enough (approximately 240 years as an independent democracy) to be considered a success yet. There have been other democracies in history, much of our system was patterned on ancient Greece, we owe a lot to their influence but we are still relative babies, in the broad scheme of things, it will take some time yet before we can be viewed as a success or failure. The way we will see if we fail, is if another influence rises to acceptance and power, namely one such as, authoritarianism.
What is authoritarianism? The definition is- Favoring complete obedience or subjection to authority as opposed to individual freedom. Anti-authoritarianism ( which I am a proud, metaphorically; card carrying member of) believes in full equality before the law and strong civil liberties. We are the egalitarians of the world, giving full dignity and respect to the wisdom of every soul regardless of race, gender, age, or anything else. Believe it or not, but there are a significant percentage of people whom prefer an authoritarian type of structure; where one person or a small group of people, with strong domineering personalities, is calling all the shots. Some of the traits of authoritarian leaders are domineering, opposes equality, desires personal power, manipulative, exploitative, fear-mongering, knowingly cheats to win, intimidating, nationalistic and ruthless. Some of the traits of those who willingly follow such leaders are- submissive to authority, aggressive on behalf of authority, moralistic, prone to panic, highly self-righteous but little self awareness, severely punitive, demands loyalty, zealous.
If you have strong anti-authoritarian' tendencies these days, especially in childhood, you are likely to end up medicated, to take care of the “problem.” A.D.D, A.D.H.D and a host of others, although a real occurrence and intervention is necessary in some instances, are way over diagnosed and often the only real problem is trying to control and break the spirit of an anti-authoritarian soul.
An authoritarian parent is characterized by high demands and expectations usually coupled by low responsiveness. Nurturing takes a back seat to compliance and obedience and fear is held in high regard, harsh punishment and yelling are the status quo. Those that say “that's how I was raised and it never did me any harm,” may need to look at the statistics of how many people are living with deep anxiety, low self-esteem and unrelenting depression. In a democratic household (or “dolphin” as opposed to “tiger” if your in to those type of descriptions) nurture is primary, that younger soul being considered equal to your own, from birth, needing only the guidance of your wisdom, they have yet to acquire.
There are completely democratic schools around, take a look at the Sudbury system if you're interested. I believe that they have it almost completely right, although I do believe educational OPPURTUNITIES need to be a little more organized. The day of expecting complete compliance and subjection to authority at school, in preparation for an assembly line or the military though, should have gone by the wayside 50 or 60 years ago. Incidentally, the military is about the only place where I believe you need authoritarian leadership, you just don't have time when preparing for battle, for a democracy. The workplace is finally beginning to swing away from the hierarchical, authoritarian style, to a more “team oriented” focus, believe me, if you do end up in a factory or something similar, you want to be in a team oriented atmosphere, I have experienced both and the latter is far superior.
How do we make our choice? How to determine which way we will go as a society? Do we want to live under a king-dom or under free-dom. Dom is a suffix meaning-under the authority of. I am going to quote one more passage and you readers can figure out where it came from. "We are called unto liberty but do not use it to serve the needs of the flesh but to serve each other, for the whole of the law is complete in this; love thy neighbor as yourself."
That defines liberty to me; leaders who want to serve instead of rule. Teachers who teach out of love and not authoritarianism; parents who raise children looking to love for guidance and wisdom, not authoritarianism. Workers who love their fellow workers as themselves, couples who serve each other, rather than try to dominate, that is true liberty. As for me, “Give me liberty or give me death.”