Soapbox Philosophy: We must renew our independence
by Gregory R. Norfleet · Op-Ed · July 05, 2013

The United States continues to step away from a standard bigger than itself for a standard it can mold as it pleases. This is not progress.

My concerns are bigger than the National Security Agency gathering data on my phone calls and Internet usage, but as an example, ask yourself this: Have you, even once, thought twice about what you punch into your Web browser since learning of the NSA’s data-mining program?

That’s fear.

That’s neither the spirit nor the letter of the freedom written into the U.S. Constitution.

That’s tyranny. That’s oppression.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s provision that all people must purchase health insurance is forcing people to spend money that they may not otherwise. The U.S. Supreme Court incorrectly concluded that the “fine” for not carrying insurance is actually a “tax” and, thus, is constitutional. And this past week Democrat Nancy Pelosi suggested we take time during Independence Day to celebrate the “health independence” delivered by the ACA.


Further, that the ACA requires companies to pay for abortion benefits even if the company’s founders disagree because of their religion is deplorable. That infringement on their freedom of religion is unconstitutional.

Benjamin Franklin said that “they who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Abraham Lincoln stated that “those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”

If we really value freedom, then we would not treat law-abiding citizens like terrorists who threaten national security. If we believe in freedom, we would not force people to pay for health insurance in an attempt to keep hospital bills lower.

This is true even if all the promises of the NSA surveillance programs or ACA work as planned or better. The ends do not justify the means.

But while the U.S. Constitution is a great standard, we must remember that it was written upon the principals of an even greater standard.

Dwight Eisenhower encouraged reading when he said, “Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book ...”

There is a book that reveals faults in everyone who reads it. It is a standard bigger than any government. Because of that, many people, especially those who have not read all of it, hate it.

And while many people have never poured gasoline on it and struck a match, scores of people in the past and today have tried to discredit this book. Yet, after thousands of years, that book still stands strong and has not been found wrong — not by science, not by history, not by philosophy, not by sophistry.

So, instead of attacking it directly, many arguments go after the imperfect people with imperfect interpretations who try to tell others what it says.

It is a book that calls us all to a higher standard, not because it wants us to feel miserable and oppressed, but because it wants us to be free. It wants us to fully grasp what it means to be truly and wholly happy through courage and boldness to confront our shortcomings and strive to improve.

Instead, we try to ignore it. We try to find others who agree with us, like the Supreme Court, like the U.S. president, like state and U.S. legislators. We think that the more humans beings, especially those in powerful positions, who agree with us, the more we can justify settling for second best.

But we’re wrong.

When people first started arguing for a separation of church and state, it was because the church improperly used its position in the English government to oppress. Today, that same phrase is being used as “guilt by association” — anything, even good advice and good morals — should be cleansed from government if it has any ties to that book. Arguing for the separation of church and state this way is not an attempt to strive to be free. It is an argument to stunt our own personal growth.

We want the Freedom of Information Act to keep our politicians from becoming corrupt. The light of truth has that sanitizing effect.

Truth works on us as well, if we would just use it. We need to stop accepting watered-down definitions of “safety,” “security,” “love,” “hate,” and “freedom” for short-term gains or the lies that we can be fulfilled by less than the best.

Granted, this is personal. Our lives should not be public like a politician.

Yet the laws we’re passing, and the “freedoms” we are granting that take away liberties, or allow people to be less than what they can be, are far from the liberty we so desperately need.

We need a renewed independence.

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