In the discussions of the rapidly shrinking body of American liberty in the wake of the Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act, and the Protect America Act, one quotation is being cited over and over again: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
This statement was made by Benjamin Franklin, who had a special perspective on liberty. He was a true renaissance man, serving as a political leader, but also as a businessman, a journalist, and a scientist. Ben Franklin understood the need for freedom for political, economic, historic, and academic reasons.
Today, the affinity of the American people for liberty is not as strong as it once was. Spooked by a single bad day of three terrorist attacks, the American mindset has moved toward a desperate grab of safety, holding onto what's ours, in what is no longer regarded so much as a nation as a homeland, a piece of territory bereft of the liberal values that were at the core of the founding of the United States of America.
There's a reason that Benjamin Franklin talked about the choice being between essential liberty and temporary safety. The truth is that safety cannot be bought. It might be borrowed for a time, but there is no such thing as permanent safety. That's what makes the Homeland Security regime such a foolish choice for America. The gain of security will be temporary, but the loss of liberty will be all too permanent.
Imagine how a meeting between Benjamin Franklin and George W. Bush would turn out. It's difficult for us, in these dark times, to remember that being an American once stood for something much more proud than it does today. Yet, if we are to regain America's lost liberty, we must have that depth of imagination.
These times call for courage - not the courage to fight, but the courage to stand erect and proud without fear. The truly courageous person does not cringe at every rumor of threat, does not cower down in the shadow of a strongman and throw away freedom as if it is a burden.
The courageous person chooses liberty. We offer the following items as reminders of Benjamin Franklin's words, and as a rallying cry for bravery and a return to love of liberty in America.
Benjamin Franklin Liberty Button
Ben Franklin Liberty Quote bumper sticker
Ben Franklin on Liberty and Security Postcards|