a woman asked Ben Franklin as he was departing the Constitutional Convention in
1787, "Well, Doctor, what have we got — a Republic or a Monarchy?" the old sage
replied, "A Republic, if you can keep it." Franklin knew that even the best
words on paper can never resolve the age-old struggle between liberty and
power. People must understand liberty's fundamentals, practice and preach them,
pass them on to the next generation, and even sacrifice their lives for them on
occasion. Use this checklist to help make sure you're doing your part for
freedom (put a check mark next to
any that apply).
- ___ I raised
it in a conversation and hopefully turned on a light in at least one person's
- ___ I defended
it when it was challenged by error.
- ___ I improved
my own knowledge of the literature of liberty so as to become a better
- ___ I wrote a
letter-to-the-editor in defense of liberty, limited government or personal
- ___ I
recommended a good article, book or film that advances values consistent with a
free and civil society.
- ___ I sent a
personal check to an organization I know to be working for the advancement of
- ___ I resisted
temptation to subvert liberty by accepting something from government that
didn't belong to me and that required the government to take from someone else.
- ___ I took
action to clean up my own act so that I can be a solid exemplar of the virtues necessary for a free society to flourish.
- ___ I checked
out at least one textbook my son or daughter was assigned in school, explained
to my children any fallacies I found and complained to the school about any
that were especially egregious.
- ___ I told at
least one of my representatives that if he or she ever voted for more
government again, I would pull out all the stops to see him or her defeated in
the next election.
- ___ I told my college alma mater that if they
didn't start hiring faculty who know how to present and defend the case for
free enterprise and create some intellectual balance on campus, they'll never,
ever, get another dime from me.
- ___ I did
nothing at all for liberty, except enjoy the fruits of it while leaving the
battle for its restoration and preservation to others.
- ___ I was essentially a liberty freeloader today.
Lawrence W. Reed is president emeritus of the Mackinac
Center for Public Policy and president of the Foundation for Economic Education based in Irvington, N.Y., and Atlanta, Ga.