Vigilance

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” — Thomas Jefferson

I am very fond of much of Jefferson’s writings. He is imminently quotable on a wide variety of subjects dear to me as well. This is a quotation to which I often return, especially today when we in the US commemorate the start of the events that led to the founding of our country.

The vigilance of which Jefferson spoke is too easily interpreted as mere watchfulness for obvious, external enemies. This line of thinking is a hallmark of the regime that has gotten our country embroiled in an unsustainable set of foreign conflicts that have more to do with the politics of hate than of liberty.

I have always considered the true price of freedom to be intellectual vigilance. Never take the facile interpretation of a difficult political or moral situation. Jefferson, among other things, was a free thinker. I think that is consistent with my view, that to retain our liberty we must constantly exercise our own intellects as strenuously as he did. Reject dogma and seek out truth and knowledge for yourself. Only in the face of fact and logic can you make a reasonable critical judgement.

There rarely are answers to complex questions that are both simple and true. That should not stop you from rising to the challenge and trying to find an intellectually tenable stance. It is easy to follow majority opinions, doing so involves no real sacrifice. We live in an unprecedented age with regards to our access to knowledge. Use those resources to discover for yourself what forms of liberty are individually dear to you and how best to defend them.

Today of all days should be one spent in consideration of personal liberty. Consider too how you can be mindful, vigilant, every day and how you may also act, add your voice, your actions to those issues of freedom that matter most to you.

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