Safety and Freedom

Safety and Freedom

Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.

–Benjamin Franklin

 

By Dr. Jim Ferguson
I suspect because we’ve had plenty of rain, East Tennesseans are experiencing a beautiful fall. Last weekend Becky and I drove in the Cades Cove area to indulge in the colors and spend the night at our mountain home above Townsend, Tennessee. It was beautiful. However, the yellow and golden hickory and maple trees, against an azure sky outside of my study window, are breathtaking, especially when set aflame by early morning or late afternoon sunshine. The window on my woodland is a far cry from my computer’s “windows on the world” revealing America’s “fall.”

As I survey the dozen “news” sources I read daily, it’s hard not to be discouraged, especially when history teaches that America’s current direction always ends in destruction. I feel sorry for my kids and grans. And I feel anger at the quislings and sycophants whose hatred of President Trump caused them to vote for the demented, puppet iPOTUS. I hesitate to quote Obama, but he said of our erstwhile president, “Don’t underestimate Joe Biden’s ability to [screw] things up.”

Throughout the decades practicing internal medicine and geriatrics, I frequently encountered the dilemma of freedom versus safety. This issue often arises in families trying to do their best to guide and protect older loved ones who are failing. The question becomes, is it better to allow people their freedom and accept inherent risk? Or is it better to place a family member in a protected and safe environment and lessen their freedom?

Of course, the decision is non-binary; it is more of a continuum of risk and safety. We protect children growing up until they’re old enough to make decisions for themselves. At the same time, we sometimes usurp the freedom of our failing loved ones in our desire for safety.

As someone who pays close attention to phrases (and elevator music), I’ve begun to notice the admonition, “Stay safe.” I recognize this as more of a pleasantry because I doubt anyone will make safer decisions after the “stay safe” farewell.” But what does it really mean to stay safe and at what cost?

Almost two years ago we were told that we needed to shut down the country and shelter in place for two weeks to “bend the curve” of the Covid pandemic. I believe this was a well-intentioned safety admonition by the government and experts based on the evidence in March 2020. But two years later those recommendations have morphed into something far beyond safety. The command-and-control functionaries now use the cudgel of vaccinations, masking and mandates, under the guise of safety, to subjugate We the People. In March 1775, Patrick Henry asked, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?”

In the last few years, I’ve been thinking a lot about safety and freedom. It’s not either-or, but a balance and it should be a personal decision. iPOTUS and his handlers, along with “Saint” Fauci and his acolytes, demand we obey their proclamations of safety and subjugate the American ideal of individual freedom.

I have never felt unsafe in my country, though there are places I would not frequent. Nor have I had my rights abridged. But these are troubled times and we daily see injustices and the unequal administration of the law. I believe we are on the cusp of a revolution or in the midst of one. Perhaps Americans will choose the perceived safety of socialist collectivism and be ruled by elites. Alternatively, the DNA of freedom may manifest and defeat the progressive-socialist cabal that now rules the Democrat party and the Biden administration. I again quote Benjamin Franklin, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

One of my axioms (or Fergisms) is if you want to know about an author, read his book. The essence of a writer is in their written work. You can’t write dishonestly and not be discovered. Therefore, if you want to know about me, read my column and certainly read my book!

I had heard of Andy Stanley and his ministry, but I now have a greater understanding of the man by reading his book, “The Grace of God.” Stanley’s prose is clear and his exegesis of Biblical stories is compelling. However, his discussion of God’s law made me think of Benjamin Franklin and our Congress.

I’ve heard it said that laws such as The Ten Commandments restrict individual freedom. I don’t accept that libertine premise, and neither does Stanley. Eight hundred years ago Thomas Aquinas and the Scholastics posited a hierarchy of laws. Aquinas held that everything was encompassed by God’s Universal Law. Existing within that sphere were Divine Laws like the Ten Commandments. And then existing in ever smaller spheres were Nature’s Laws and finally Man’s Law (positive law), including speed limits and Constitutions.

Man seems to love his statutes because he makes so many of them. Or because they are inadequate or just plain crappy. By Jesus’ time the Hebrews had expanded the Ten Commandments to six hundred and thirty-two laws governing conduct, status, worship, loyalty, work and even salvation. Jesus was asked about such legalisms and answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment (law) greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).

The problem in ancient Israel was man’s obstinacy manifested as apostasy, injustice and idolatry. Man created laws to curb passion, greed or lust for power. But man’s laws are easy to ignore because they are created by man and carry little weight. The devious and godless work of the system is to promote “their way rather than The Way.” I see obvious parallels in our current political and legal system.

We would all be safer and freer if we lived and functioned under the basic principles designed by the Creator and articulated by Jesus, rather than relying on man’s corruptible laws which are easily broken with comparatively little consequence.

Food for thought.

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