Nations grown corrupt
Love bondage more than liberty;
Bondage with ease than strenuous liberty.
~ John Milton
If history tells us anything, it is that the greater part of men prefer security to liberty. Most it seems are not even aware that they are making a choice. They go about their lives, entranced by the world around them, trading security for liberty, especially in times of turmoil or unfamiliarity. Like Esau, they readily trade their birthright for a mess of pottage in a desperate search for satiation and security.
We live in such a time. The challenge lies in maintaining sufficient perspective in a climate dominated by fear, doubt and unrelenting uncertainty. The changes come slowly, but like the mighty tides they alter the landscape in their passing. James Madison described the pattern well when he stated: “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
While I am inclined to agree with Madison’s assessment, it is clear to me that a loss of freedom is a loss of freedom. We live in dangerous times, but we must be careful not to trade short-term security for a long-term liberty.
Be clear on this point: comfort does not always imply freedom. Neither does freedom always imply comfort. Where true freedom is known, there is a deep sense of peace, no matter how strenuously you may be working to safeguard liberty, but freedom is not always comfortable.
Oddly enough, bondage is more often characterized by ease than liberty. I imagine this is due to the fact that the creative forces are more contained and the experience is more pressurized in one who exercises his capacity of decision in the protection of liberty.
Take care that you do not sell yourself short in this regard. As was depicted so cleverly in the movie The Matrix, foolish and shameful is he who submits to bondage with ease, as long as strenuous liberty remains an option. It is much easier to preserve something already gained than it is to regain something that was lost due to ignorance, neglect or disuse.
“I know not.. / whether those who did our Rights betray, / And for a mess of Pottage, sold away / Our dear bought / Freedoms, shall now trusted be, / As Conservators of our Libertie.”—Benjamin Keach, Distressed Sion Relieved(London, 1689), line 3300.