by Ron Ewart

For centuries, a six-foot tall biped, who walked out of the jungles and grasslands of yesteryear, some 20,000 years ago, has been on a torturous path to go ever farther and faster and to even defy the chains of gravity that binds him to the Earth.   Over the last five millennium, each of his decisions for war or peace, has driven him towards an unseen goal, a need to explore and to fulfill his insatiable desire to learn more about himself and his universe.  But that drive made an exponential leap into the future, when a small band of men on a new continent, decided that freedom had a greater value than life itself.  They were committed to risk their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor in the defense of liberty.  From that fateful decision and the resulting struggle, individual freedom was born. 

Along the way man has made many mistakes, but along the way he has made great strides as well ….. ever since his creativity, industriousness, ambition and generosity were unleashed under that greatest of all symbols of freedom, the American flag.  It is that individual freedom that has brought man to the edge of jumping off this once infinitely large planet and to reach his outstretched “hand” into the secrets and mysteries of an infinite Universe.   The question is, can he keep up the pace of this quest, if he allows freedom to slip from his grasp ….. that very freedom that has allowed him to reach such unimaginable heights, in just a short 233 years.

It is said by many that America is a free country and many come here because of the perception that it is a free country.  However, by any measure, it is anything but a free country because without individual freedom, there is no freedom and individual freedom has been trashed, as the first 10 Amendments of the U. S. Constitution, (the original Bill of Rights) that guarantee our individual freedom, have been, or will be repealed, one by one.  Oh sure, there is still freedom of speech, sort of.  And the freedom to worship in a religion of one’s choice is still pretty much intact.  The Third Amendment about soldiers being quartered in private residences during time of war has not been breached since the civil war, as far as we know.  But the Second amendment and the Fourth, Fifth, the Eighth, the Ninth, the Tenth and the Fourteenth have been badly bruised, if not outright repealed by actions of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government, that operate in concert with each other to entrench their power over the states and the people.  The “Separation of Powers” doctrine, as enshrined in the Constitution by the Founding Fathers, is essentially dead, or in its final death throes.

The Fourth Amendment requiring “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated”, is being violated every day by government, in its pursuit to make you secure, at the expense of your liberty.

The Fifth Amendment stating that: No person shall……….”be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation”, is all but irrelevant.  Government takes, reduces your right-of-use, or decreases the value of your property consistently, by act, law, regulation, restriction, ordinance and eminent domain abuse, without due process and without just compensation.  U. S. Supreme Court decisions have aided and abetted the destruction of the Fifth Amendment, by sanctioning government police powers, way beyond the limits of the constitution.

The Eighth Amendment stating that: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted” has been rendered meaningless, as the penalty for violating some draconian environmental regulation mounts into thousands upon thousands of dollars in fines and can even be criminalized that can result in lengthy incarceration.  Woe be to the man who violates an environmental regulation, for he shall be crucified on the altar of the enviro-viper.

The Ninth and Tenth Amendments stating respectively that: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”  and “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”, are no longer relevant.  The Federal Government has so exceeded its enumerated powers contained in the Constitution, as to render “states rights” and the “rights of the people” virtually non-existent.  The Feds write federal mandates, forcing the states to comply and if they don’t, the Feds withhold federal money for other federal programs run by the states.  So the states capitulate to the rising power of the Feds with their “beaks” pointing skyward for federal dollars, like baby birds in a nest, waiting for their federal “mother” to deliver their next meal.

The sanctity and dignity of human life and the human spirit (or soul if you will) only has meaning when there is “free choice”.  That human spirit has a driving force to survive first and then express itself through its individual wants and desires second.  Creativity, industriousness, ingenuity and compassion are the expression of those individual wants and desires.  Such expression is different in every human being.  Some expressions are good, while others are evil.  Some of those wants and desires complement each other.  Nevertheless, it is from these wants and desires, tempered with a large dose of morality, from which most human achievement and advances in the human condition occur.  These characteristics are most abundant when the individual has free choice.

In the book, ”Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand, her philosophy of the individual and individual freedom was embodied in one chapter in the book entitled, ”This is John Galt Speaking”.   We have excerpted a few lines from this chapter, as they are relevant to individual freedom and free choice.

“Man’s mind is his basic tool of survival. Life is given to him, survival is not. His body is given to him, its sustenance is not. His mind is given to him, its content is not. To remain alive, he must act, and before he can act he must know the nature and purpose of his action. He cannot obtain his food without a knowledge of food and of the way to obtain it. He cannot dig a ditch–or build a cyclotron–without a knowledge of his aim and of the means to achieve it. To remain alive, he must think.”

“But to think is an act of choice. The key to what you so recklessly call ‘human nature,  the open secret you live with, yet dread to name, is the fact that man is a being of volitional consciousness. Reason does not work automatically; thinking is not a mechanical process; the connections of logic are not made by instinct. The function of our stomach, lungs or heart is automatic; the function to think or to evade that effort is an act of free choice. But you are not free to escape from your nature, from the fact that reason is your means of survival–so that for you, who are a human being, the question ‘to be or not to be’ is the question ‘to think or not to think’”

“There is only one fundamental alternative in the universe; existence or non-existence–and it pertains to a single class of entities: to living organisms. The existence of inanimate matter is unconditional, the existence of life is not: it depends on a specific course of action. Matter is indestructible, it changes its forms, but it cannot cease to exist. It is only a living organism that faces a constant alternative: the issue of life or death. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action. If an organism fails in that effort, it ceases to exist. It is only the concept of “Life’ that makes the concept of ‘Value’ possible. It is only to a living entity that things can be good or evil.”

“A plant must feed itself in order to live; the sunlight, the water, the chemicals it needs are the values its nature has set it to pursue; its life is the standard of value directing its actions. But a plant has no choice of action; there are alternatives in the conditions it encounters, but there is no alternative in its function: it acts automatically to further its life, it cannot act for its own destruction.”

Man, on the other hand, can act for his own survival, or his own destruction.  He can either choose life or death, or he can choose freedom, or enslavement.  If the power of government rises, man can choose either to resist that power, or capitulate to that power.

In America, we have a foundation of law, our Constitution, that allows us to not only resist government’s rising power, but to reduce the power of government without having to resort to revolution.  But to do so, man must choose individual freedom and be willing to pay the price required for the preservation, protection and defense of that freedom.

To do otherwise, is to be condemned to be an indentured slave to others who own his life, his liberty and his property as well as the fruits of his labors.  To do otherwise, is worse than death.

Ron Ewart [send him email] is President of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF RURAL LANDOWNERS, an organization dedicated to re-establish, preserve, protect and defend property rights.

The 10th Amendment

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”



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