“The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve, nor will he ever receive, either.” Benjamin Franklin

Freedom. A word that should invoke a feeling of reverence among every citizen of this great Nation. We are a free people. We are a country founded upon the belief that men are “endowed with certain inalienable rights”. We are free to live our lives by our own conscience, and we are free to become great. God intended it this way, indeed Gods greatest gift to mankind is free agency or the ability to choose for ourselves, the ability to be in control of our own existence. David O McKay, a religious leader and prophet of the LDS Church, said:

“Next to the bestowal of life itself, the right to direct that life is God’s greatest gift to man…. Freedom of choice is more to be treasured than any possession earth can give.  It is inherent in the spirit of man.  It is a divine gift to every normal being…. Everyone has this most precious of all life’s endowments–the gift of free agency–man’s inherited and inalienable right.”

So why then do we have free agency?
To learn by making choices and mistakes in order to better understand who we are and what we want out of life.

The pilgrims who first came to this land, our forefathers, did so to escape tyranny and establish freedom. We should pause for a moment to consider the irony in the fact that the pilgrims had to flee to another land just to practice the free agency that God gave them, but kings, in all their glory, took away. Man has within him a desire to be free, and rightly so because it is a right that God gave him. This right must be protected.

What then is the great enemy to freedom? In a word, SECURITY. The dictionary offers this as a partial definition of security:

“freedom from danger, risk, care, anxiety or doubt. An assurance or guarantee”

Freedom offers none of these things. Freedom means you are free to succeed, but you are also free to fail. Freedom comes laden with dangers, risks, cares anxieties and doubts. One cannot be protected from these things and accomplish anything of value in this life. You have to face danger, you have to take risks, which means living with anxieties and self-doubts, to achieve any worthwhile type of success.

Our founding fathers rebuffed security in the name of freedom. Going along with the current system, being dutiful citizens of Great Britain was the path of least resistance and most secure route open to our forefathers. It is therefore no coincidence that it was also the least favorable. There was little danger in it, but as its only reward it offered a lifetime of servitude. Fighting for freedom, on the other hand, meant war, suffering, loss of property and danger to life and limb. They knew the severe consequences of failure, but its precisely because those consequences were so dire that the reward was even worth obtaining. Their reward was the very thing they fought for, the greatest and most necessary gift God gave us, freedom.

“Greater the risk, greater the reward”. This old adage is so true, but so is its opposite. Where there is no risk, there is no reward. Security asks for nothing and offers nothing. Freedom can require anything, but offers everything. Actually security does offer one thing: bondage. Security entraps, ensnares and causes complete reliance upon another person or entity. That is why it is the antithesis of freedom. Security falls right in line with the plan of him who fights against God, he who proposed that nobody have a right to agency, and he who still tempts people into addiction, sin and reliance, which severely reduce the choices available.

Something to think about: The government right now is taking unprecedented steps with the multiple bailouts in the name of saving the country from economic catastrophe. They are trying to prevent both business and people from failing. They are offering assurances, they are trying to eliminate risks, they are giving us what they think is best for us: security. We are giving them more and more power to do it because they say it is necessary. With that in mind, think about this quote by William Pitt, he said this in 1783:

“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is argument of tyrants. It is the creed of slaves.”



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2 responses to ““The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve, nor will he ever receive, either.” Benjamin Franklin

  1. Brennan Todd

    Thanks for the post. Well written. It seems to me that security has become synonymous with entitlement, and that said security is being magically endowed upon us by our government, whether with our consent or without. It is an interesting principle, one which I believe is at the very root of our current ills. One thing I would exhort all to consider is whether or not they are properly applying this principle on a micro level in their own families. Are we allowing our children freedom to fail? Are we creating an atmosphere of personal accountability or one where there is a sense of being bailed out? This is where we begin; teach our children correct principles. This deception has in a large part been planted in the homes of our country, then when it is espoused by politicians the fallacy is all the more easily spread. Consider these words from Joseph Smith, “If we start right it is easy to go right all of the time, if we start wrong it may be near impossible to get right at all.”

    • governingprinciples

      Fantastic principle Brennan! Our country is raised and taught with in the walls of our homes! I am going to make a greater effort to give my children the freedom to succeed or fail. I love it!!!

      Thank you!

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