The Price of Freedom is Risk

Ben Franklin

Most people in America have an overwhelming desire to want to be safe. 

Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, safety is essential to our well being after we satisfy the basic physiological needs (food, water, shelter, etc.). In order for us to thrive we need to have our basic needs met, and then we are able to focus on other needs and wants. 

But how do we balance freedom and safety? Benjamin Franklin stated, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

That idea is an extremely important one to consider and remember. In other words, if you are willing to give up your freedoms to have more safety then you don’t deserve to have freedom or safety. 

Why would one of our founding fathers say such a thing? It starts by understanding the price the founding fathers paid (and all those who fought for our freedoms since then) for us to have the most free country in the world.

Hundreds of thousands of people have given their lives so we can enjoy the freedom we have.  They all understood that to have freedom there has to be risks. Life is full of risks and we obviously want to minimize those risks, but at what cost are you willing to give up freedoms for a little temporary safety?

You can’t be free and not have risks and dangers and uncertainty (name me a single country without crime). Yes, some countries have more crime than others, and many like to point out the high crime rate in America as a reason to take away freedoms.

But we must understand that a common weapon of crime, the gun, is only an inanimate object, and can’t make a person kill another. Before there were guns, it was swords and clubs that were used to kill (and rocks before that). 

The emotional and illogical response is to ban those weapons, but that still ignores the root cause of the violence: human nature. We ignore the fact that some people will always be willing to kill and maim and hurt others. We ignore the fact that there will always be wolves (evil people) that are willing to harm us and our loved ones.

No matter how “civilized” we become, wolves will hurt and kill others regardless of any laws or ethics. When we disregard personal responsibility and blame an object for the actions of the person who used it, we diminish our value as human beings to choose our actions. 

A byproduct of that illogical thought process created our lame and inconsequential judicial system that doesn’t deter the wolves from doing what they do. I believe (based on my experience with law enforcement and the judicial system) that if we quadrupled the sentences given, used the death penalty more often (remembering that wolves could care less about our society and anyone else’s safety), and stopped the plea bargains; we would see an impressive reduction in crime.

I found the same wolves that were put in jail would immediately commit more crimes once released from their minimal sentences. Hence, it is the same wolves committing the vast majority of crimes that make America look like the proverbial Wild West. 

Remember that wolves don’t care one bit about America, you, me, or our families. They would rather kill you than have to mess with you to get what they want.  No amount of education or training will change their attitudes. 

Let me say that again: “No amount of education or training will change their attitudes.”  They simply don’t care.  I have seen them. They exist in every city. It’s the people ignoring the wolves that have created the mess we are in. 

We need to once again make people responsible for their own actions (remembering that all actions have consequences – both good and bad), and then crime rates will fall. 

What does this all have to do with our safety?  We need to teach everyone that the only way you and I can be as safe as possible is when we are responsible for our own safety and we don’t expect it from anyone else (including the police). When we take responsibility for our own safety (which includes arming ourselves), the wolves are quickly eliminated and therefore society becomes much safer than if we took away freedoms and created more laws. 

This entails fighting back against the wolves.  Which brings us to the next point of this discussion: is it worth it to fight back?  We can understand that question by applying the words of John Stuart Mill:

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

There is always something to fight for. If you don’t think so, then you don’t deserve to live in America.  To live in America and to be an American means that you take personal responsibility seriously and you are willing to fight for what is right and to defend yourself and your families. 

Move to many of the countries than ban private ownership of firearms and live your lives there without concern for freedom or gun violence. I will fight to my last breath to stop someone from hurting my sweet family. I may use a gun (my first choice), or a knife, or even my bare hands if that is all I have to fight with, but rest assured (to paraphrase Clint Smith) that if someone kills me, I’ll have to be beat with my empty weapon, because I’ll have a pile of brass and dead wolves at my feet.