The Other Side of Freedom

There is a lot of talk about freedom in the political atmospherics of today.  When most politicians are using that word “freedom” in 2014, they are talking about citizens NOT having to do something.  And while our Founding Fathers used “freedom” that way occasionally – like not paying that tax on tea – a dive into real American history would reveal that the Washingtons and Jeffersons and Franklins and Adams seldom used “freedom” without connecting it to “responsibility.”

bob dylan 2Perhaps the contemporary American who most captures the Founding Fathers’ definition of freedom is Bob Dylan.  That iconoclastic rocker asserts that, “A hero is someone who understands that responsibility comes with freedom.”  Our Founding Fathers and Dylan give us such an unorthodox view of that word, don’t they?  I mean that kind of thinking would not get you elected today!  But I wonder.  What would happen if our political leaders were inspired by that definition first expressed by those early patriots so many years ago?

Think about the issues that most divide this state and the answer to every one of them hinges on how much of freedom do you think is responsibility?

  • Freedom from taxes or the responsibility to create a fair tax system to help tackle a poverty landscape where more than one in four Kentucky kids live?
  • Freedom from tackling child abuse because it doesn’t impact “me” or the responsibility to be the face that ends child abuse?
  • Freedom from government intervention or the responsibility to protect kids and pregnant women from secondhand smoke in public places?
  • Freedom from regulations or the responsibility to curb the pervasive climate of predatory lending practices?
  • Freedom from state control or the responsibility to ensure that our public schools serve all kids, no matter what county they live in?

As you would probably guess, my vote in each of these propositions is to err on the side of responsibility.  That does not mean that every public policy issue means more government nor does it abrogate the responsibility quotient that we as individual citizens, faith communities and nonprofits should and must play in making this a Commonwealth that lives up to the promise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Yet Bob Dylan does remind us that Jefferson, in describing the colonists’ grievances against the British, penned, “They too have been deaf to the voice of justice.”

So as those fireworks explode and the hot dogs sizzle on the grill, let’s be clear — hearing the voice of justice is a responsibility around which every Kentuckian should bear witness.

Comments

  1. Action needs to transform America from an idea whose the has yet to come to a real place. Terry Brooks continues to be a voice of responsible conscience pointing to our obligations to build what the American dream can be.

  2. We are all responsible for advocating to our representatives
    in the legislature on behalf of the
    kids and families of KY. No one
    is really free when our neighbors
    suffer from injustice especially
    when we could alleviate their
    pain by standing up for what is
    simply right. And we need to put
    our tax dollars where our words
    are. Lip service is not allowed.
    Bravo to the staff of KYA for
    standing up and working hard
    for KY kids.

    • Thank you Nancy! We are glad we get to work with you and the many committed child advocates across the state to promote justice for all KY kids.

  3. Sorry for the typo in my original comment! I meant to write, “Action needs to transform America from an idea whose time has yet to come to a real place. Terry Brooks continues to be a voice of responsible conscience pointing to our obligations to build what the American dream can be.”

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