Rallying others to the cause of liberty (OPINION)

Photo by Rabi Samuel

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and cohost of the Perspectives with Bryan and Kate on Fox News 1450 AM. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Historically, there have been many people willing to raise their voices in support of the cause of liberty.  But relatively few are able to do so effectively.

Simply raising our voices is not enough.

To move the cause of liberty forward, we must become agents of change. As modern philosopher Stephen Palmer puts it, “It’s the difference between complaining from the sidelines and actually being in the game.”

Many of us recognize the growing need to defend, preserve and promote liberty, but we remain uncertain of exactly how to help persuade our families, friends, and neighbors to rally to the cause.

This is partly due to our society’s curious dependence upon having experts tell us what to think about a given subject.

Liberty cannot thrive in a society that allows it’s thinking to be done by primarily by experts.  It requires a people who are willing to study the issues, read the fine print and ask the right questions.

We don’t have to be experts to be taken seriously.

Before we can rally others to the cause of liberty, we must individually understand what it is and how it is perpetuated.  When we have become the embodiment of a liberty-loving person, our ability to persuade others is greatly enhanced.

Three things will greatly magnify our ability to do this.

The first is to cultivate a certain quality of mind.

If we wish to be self-governed politically, we must first be self-governed individually.  This requires exercising self-control in thought, speech, action, passions, appetites, etc.

When we are self-governing in this manner, we are capable of boldly living our daily lives in complete harmony with our most deeply held values.  We must be educated, logical and morally brave—all of which are qualities of mind.

Do not underestimate the power of example that such living has on those around us.  When we are consistently moving in this direction, we naturally draw others along with us.

The second quality we must develop is cultural literacy.

Cultural literacy allows us to understand, recognize and effectively communicate across a wide spectrum of ideologies, knowledge and viewpoints.  This type of intellectual and cultural comprehension is a natural byproduct of studying the great works of history.

When we engage in regular, personal study of the classics, we learn to recognize the good, the true, and the beautiful and to communicate those ideas with conviction.  It’s about much more than simply accumulating facts and knowledge.

Cultural literacy consists of knowing the people, places and events that have shaped the world in which we live and how they fit together in the grand scheme of things.

Lacking this depth, we become little more than parrots repeating the talking points of our favorite ideologues.  Talk radio has raised this to an art form.

A perfect example of how cultural literacy works is found in Ettiene de La Boétie’s Discourse on Voluntary Servitude.

An author named Leo Tolstoy read the essay and incorporated its main ideas in his Letter to a Hindu. A pacifist rebel named Gandhi applied the ideas to defeat the British Empire and drive the British out of India.

The third quality that helps us rally others to the cause of liberty is what Saint Augustine referred to as “noble insolence.”

This isn’t simple rudeness or wisecracking, but the willingness to speak up with unusual, and admirable clarity.

The phrase is found in Augustine’s book City of God and describes how a pirate captured by Alexander the Great, rightly pointed out to the emperor that the only real difference between the conquests of the two men was that of scale.

This type of bold, yet respectful speech is something our own elected leaders need to hear more often.  Too often we fail to hold them accountable for their actions by allowing ourselves to be overawed by a title.

Notice that none of these suggestions involve solving the problem from the top down.  Instead, they begin with the most basic unit of society—the individual.

It turns out that rallying others to the cause of liberty depends more upon the person in the mirror than it does upon electing a particular politician.

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