We tuned in to a live meeting with one of our state senators last night. He’s a good man. He spent 30 years fighting for the nation as a soldier. He’s been to battle. He’s helped liberate nations. And he’s lived his life according to a strong set of values.
But now he’s fighting a different war. And this time he doesn’t have the luxury of bullets and bombs. He has words and an ever-twisted set of laws.
It’s a fierce battle. The enemy isn’t outnumbered. And it’s not outgunned.
It has equal access to the same elements of destruction.
That’s the thing with a country like ours. It was designed for a fight.
As our senator friend battles the governor over the notion of allowing businesses to reopen, he’s got quite an arsenal pointed at him.
But it wasn’t until the end of the meeting that he made it clear why he’s willing to fight. He concluded the conversation with some strong words uttered by Ronald Reagan back in March of 1961.
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” the future president said. “We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
It’s a critical theme these days.
Yes, we’ve lost freedom in truckloads over the last two months. But the news is not all bad.
The topics of freedom, liberty and their true definitions haven’t been so widely discussed in at least a generation.
Our forefathers set us up for a fight. And we’ve got it.
When it comes to the notions Reagan mentions above, that’s a good thing. It’s awakened many complacent Americans.
But there’s something almost all of them are missing.
This latest battle may be with an oppressive government… but the war is with an even larger foe.
To get where we need to go, it’s vital we know what we’re fighting for… and why.
It’s something we’ve mused about before – the subtle but critical differences between “freedom” and “liberty.”
Our culture tends to think the two terms are interchangeable.
They are not.
Understanding them will change the way you think… live… and, hopefully, spend your money.
Freedom is a word of German origin that simply means the ability to make decisions or perform actions without external control.
But liberty, with its French roots, means freedom that has been granted by some sort of external element, typically our society or government.
Boiled down… freedom is something we are born with. Liberty is something we must fight for.
That’s a critical idea. Liberty must be granted by an external force.
Here’s why it’s vital to know the slight but powerful nuances of each word… especially these days.
America’s Founding Fathers believed freedom was a God-given right. We all know that. But few folks know that they left it up to the government to grant its citizens the liberties to take advantage of that right.
All we have to do is read this morning’s headlines to realize that, yes, these infallible icons of American historic lore… got it wrong.
No government will ever grant true liberty on its own. To think one will is preposterous.
After all, we hang our hat in the country with the strongest limits on the power of the government anywhere on the globe… and yet millions of Americans are out of work today – by rule of law.
It proves that this grand national experiment is still in formation.
An Oasis in the Desert
We’ll look to Reagan again for some color…
“If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to,” he said in 1964. “This is the last stand on Earth. And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except to sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.”
Again, we’re at war. We pray it never comes to bullets and cannons… but there’s no doubt freedom is on the line.
That’s why we continue to turn to the most reliable liberator in all of history…
Nothing has liberated more people than wealth. By its definition, no government can do what money has done.
By the very nature of our being, we all have the freedom to travel where we want and do what we want. We simply don’t have the liberty to do it, especially right now.
But it’s not just our government holding us back.
Our wealth plays a huge role.
Millions of Americans are out of work. They’re missing rent checks. They’re spending hours in miles-long lines for free food. And they’re desperately waiting for a check from Uncle Sam.
Few times in American history has the value of financial freedom been so important.
But it’s not the wealthy versus the poor. That’s the way the storytellers want to put it.
No, it’s the independent versus the dependent.
Wealth is the great divider these days. For the folks who were prepared (or, more aptly, who had the luxury of preparing), the last few months have been a painful disturbance.
But for the unprepared, a lack of wealth has led to utter destruction.
The government-induced shutdown was the catalyst… but it was a lack of financial freedom that really did the cutting.
Don’t get us wrong. Reagan was right. And our friend in the senate is fighting a good fight.
But we’d argue this war won’t be won even if the government suddenly steps out of the way. That will certainly help. But this war will be won only when Americans realize the only way to true freedom is to liberate it with wealth.
The government won’t ever do that for us.
Only we can.
That’s what we must tell our children and grandchildren.
To get there, we must think differently.
And we must have a very real commitment to building wealth.
You already have freedom. You were born with it. Now you – and only you – must liberate it.
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