[Note: This essay is for Opposite Day, and unlike Mr Kuznicki I will not be going to hell for it as writing essays in a Devil’s Advocate mode I deem not to impinge on my particular views of soteriology. :)]
In a moderately famous document penned by a not unknown and reputable 18th century colonial Virginian it was written:
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 …
(it goes on in that execrable vein for some time). In fact the government of a significant Nation, dare we say superpower, of the 20th and 21st century is based (in principle) on that premise. It would be a shame if the underlying premises of this nation and influential document were based on a falsehood. In this little endeavour I will attempt to point out why the assumption that “Liberty” is a Right we seek, when in fact it is something we abjure and fear is mistaken.
Three arguments can be marshalled against this repellent idea of “Liberty”. These three are based on natural law, philosophical considerations, Judeo-Christian theology.
Observe your fellow man. Does he seek liberty or slavery? If you have a group of men, do they seek to follow or seek their own ends? Where then comes the mob? Left coasters declaimed in past decades, the “Me generation” and the desire that everyone freely express themselves. What was the result, a mass of tie-dyed, jeans clad, uniformity. The question we come to from our observation of human nature is not that we might seek Liberty, but why did anyone think that Liberty was a goal that humans desire?
Alasdair McIntyre writes in Dependent Rational Animals that our primary distinguishing features is that we are … well … dependent rational animals. Our dependencies and the responsiblities we feel for our dependents are what bind us together and serve as a primary motivation. Liberty and dependence/responsibility are antithetical concepts.
I’ll make this section brief, because it is a little akin to shooting ducks in a barrel.
The Psalmist (David) writes quite eloquently that is man’s role to worship. God is Lord of all. It is quipped today that God is not a Democrat or a Republican, but that he is a Monarchist, i.e., Lord. The famous Orthodox Jesus prayer reads:
Lord Jesus Christ. Son of God. Have mercy on me, a sinner.
(emphasis mine). The point being is that it is not a hidden theme in Scripture that our given place is in obedience to the Creator God. To make this explicit, Liberty and freedom from God’s intention for us is specifically that which is termed sin. For the uninitiated … sin is not a good thing.
Men are by nature created unequal, not of course a priori with respect to rights, but certainly with to his abilities. Given that man is by nature a slavish follower of fashion, trend, and the prevailing wind would it not make sense therefore to base one’s government on the concept that we must seek the right men to rule and guide us. Meritocracy not Democracy is the ideal.
[ed: As Mr Kuznicki noted, it is difficult to avoid some sense of parody. ]