“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.” ~ James Madison
Seeing the images and videos of the various manifestations of rebellion known as the “Arab Spring” brings me back to the year of my high school graduation, 1989, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. As each piece of the Wall was pulled to the ground by a people who had finally broken free of paralyzing fear, human dignity was restored.
The same appears to be true with the current uprisings, in a land held largely in suspended animation by dictators in a time of unprecedented growth and development virtually everywhere else in the world. Fortunately for those people whose freedoms had been curtailed for decades, the occasionally annoying hyper-connectivity of our present era afforded them with a view of how limited they had been, giving credence to Thomas Jefferson’s statement: “Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”
Tyranny does not allow for the full development of potential of its people. Tyranny discourages thinking, demands conformity and slowly squeezes the hope, dreams and life out of its subjects. I did not read this in a book, I saw it with my own eyes while touring nations decimated by tyranny in my youth. It is a dreadful system of government, indeed.
Do not be mistaken. Tyranny can, and has repeatedly throughout history, be born from democracy. Unless continual effort is made to keep government just and limited, the baser elements present in human consciousness eventually rear their ugly head. More often than not tyranny comes on the heels of a resurgence of fear. Fear is a powerful motivator and any citizen or representative of government is wise to look carefully behind the curtain whenever fear is fomented on a large scale. Remember the wise words of James Madison: “If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”
I am keenly interested to see how the changes in the Middle East will contribute to human progress on our remarkable planet. The cultural patterns in the Middle East are as fascinating as they are diverse and the people of those ancient lands have enormous potential to add value to the world for which we are collectively responsible.
Time will tell.
7 thoughts on “The Guardian of True Liberty”
There are many types of tyranny, from governmental tyranny to self inflicted tyranny. I think one of the ways to subvert this is to realize that each person has something that is worthwhile about them and worthy of respect. Learn to emphasize that, as individuals and as societies, and I think we would be on the path to ensure that tyranny never rears its head again.
I liked this post. James Madison’s quote seems prophetic but it also seems true in any case where one overlooks the power of their own internal stance no matter the outer circumstances.
Interesting insight. It was worthwhile to consider your perspective. Thanks!
Those are great points! It is not always the most comfortable situation for people to stand by what they believe in. It is not always the popular
thought or cause that is the right one to champion. Victimization is a double edge sword, where often the victim becomes the oppressor, but where true liberty is embraced there is the evidence of an individual person who is freed by his or her forgiveness of their oppressors and lives by their integrity to do no harm to others. That is true liberation!
Fear is the Trojan horse that dictators use to infiltrate the decisions of the nonthinker or those not educated to think. The present economy is the perfect medium to grow unrest that can lead to regrettable decisions. Every time I hear the question asked, what is the government going to do about this, I shudder.
The antidote is education. Education about how things practically work. The public could be taught simple economics. The recession wasn’t bad luck, it was a series of bad chioces. Most people were blindsided by something that was documented as a certainty by a good number of analysts. There were plenty that saw this coming but it’s never going to win elections if you talk about the truth of the situation. Our elected officials can not be expected to act like poor parents, just keeping us amused while they run our lives.
James Madison knew 200 years ago; so how this happens is certainly not a mystery.
Great quotes, especially the second one you cite by James Madison. A lot of food for thought.
Thank you for the thoughtful post this morning – much more enlightening on the subject than the morning news.