There are countless ways of saying it: “This land is your land,” “a man’s home is his castle,” “life, liberty, property (estate),” “…if you work hard…,” “my word is my bond.” These are just a few historical tributes to the very simple principle that our distinct independence is bound to our property.
The truth is, there is no greater assault on our individual liberty than to live in a world knowing at any moment everything you own, and everything you are, can be taken away from you. Inherently, we would all like to believe the “fruits of our labor” are actually ours. However, true American liberty transcends just our labors. The fruits of our labor are not solely tied to commerce, but to a life’s work that represents our legacy. The essence of everything associated with our name either belongs to us or it does not. If it does not belong to any one individual, then none of us is free.
First, I want to be clear when I speak of property, I do so from a Lockean proviso (John Locke, 1632-1704), but not limited to Locke principles. When I speak of property of course I am talking about land, the contents of our bank accounts, our mode of transportation and our commerce. I am also talking about our physical being and divine existence. I am talking about the person you see every morning when you wake up. When I speak of property, I am not just restricting us to solid mass, but a broader understanding. This is not a foreign concept to our country. Thomas Jefferson would expand upon Locke’s proclamation when Jefferson would write the words “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Certain, an absolute declaration that our rights are firm, not ordained by man. Among is in fact a statement of expansive liberty, an edict that our country was established with a simple principle that all men are created equal.
I believe in a civil society we are all obligated to support a social order, and respect an ethical approach to safeguarding a free and just community. Most people take their role in this society very seriously, even though it may appear to be routine. Working, running a business, employing people and ethically participating in our community commerce may not sound glamorous, and is something most of us do not reflect upon that much, if at all. Beyond the “daily grind,” we attend PTA meetings, volunteer for a charity, go to church, obey the law; all part of supporting a moral social order. All of these endeavors are honorable, and vital on so many levels, just not glitzy, or worthy of a headline. However, our routine lives have a greater effect not only on us as individuals, but to our community. Our efforts of today are part of that greater concept that “the pursuit of Happiness” is more than just tied to a piece of land or a bank account. It is the entirety of our being.
In a civil society there also comes a time to acknowledge that our government can act recklessly at times, with flawed purpose, and in opposition to our property. Those elected or hired to function on our behalf have occasionally wandered away from our founding principles. They did not get lost on their own. We as a people have allowed them to drift, sometimes because of our own ignorance, often because of our collective apathy. There are also times when we permit injustice, incompetence and indifference because those committing the maleficence are “on our side.” “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” calls to us every day. Our daily life may be routine, but our responsibilities are greater than you may fathom reading this simple article. Each of us holds in our hands “the course of human events” for this generation and the next. Which means sometimes we have to push back, to not just rollover to city hall, the state capital, or D.C. There are times we have to be the thorn, because if we ever do become a nation where “you can’t fight city hall,” then I can say without any hesitation we will be living in a world without liberty.
It is a lot to think about, but with all this understanding we must act in accordance to the situation. Every circumstance presents us with a choice. We can either remain true to the principles of the American Revolution, or submit to the despotism of the French Revolution. Choosing the wrong course out of frustration will make us no better than those who stand in opposition to our founding principles. However, not to act when our government behaves contrary to our founding principles is unacceptable. To believe our government is pure and incapable of acting without malice at times is to ignore our history. The state of our affairs is the property of all of us. To see an injustice committed by our government, and not act makes us accomplices. Each inaction on our part is the willing surrender of our individual property, our liberty.
Who you are and the community where you live are your property. The deeds to this property are the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The down payment for this property was paid in full by all the generations that came before us. The endeavors in your routine life today are your payment so that future generations may become the next guardians of our nation. However, sometimes you must do more. Sometimes you have to fight city hall. To be continued.