Let My People Go!

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Dear fellow captives,

I write this letter of exhortation to you from within the confines of my home in Orcutt under an order to quarantine issued by our Emperor in Rome, oops, I mean our Governor in Sacramento.

And it is with a feeling of brotherly love and genuine concern that I share these words with you. Whence you emerge from this government decree to shelter-at-home not having read at least 3 (nonfiction) books, and listened to at least 50 hours of podcasts covering a variety of serious topics you knew little or nothing about prior to the Governor’s decree, well, brothers and sisters, I must warn you that you’re doing it wrong.

The silver lining in all of this is Americans can use this edict to socially isolate and de-commercialize by becoming a keener, smarter, better informed, less needy and more intellectually curious member of society. And ultimately help usher in a healthier body politic.

Knowledge never fails. A better-informed society is a wiser society and inevitably will become a freer society and far less likely to tolerate in its government officials a propensity to overtax us, overregulate us, and overprotect us…and that includes the government protecting us from ourselves.

Freedom is everything. There’s no acceptable substitute for freedom. The freedom to write what you want, and the freedom to say what you believe is what sets America apart from most of the other countries on the planet.

And these once protected rights, which we also once took for granted, are now under constant attack. But not solely by our government authorities, oddly enough. But even more so from our fellow Americans. How disappointing.

The freedom to assemble, the freedom to own property, the freedom to trade goods and services with your neighbors, the freedom to pursue your dreams and passions, i.e., the freedom to pursue happiness aren’t guaranteed to us by a King, or a President, a Governor, or a Mayor.  Much to the contrary. These freedoms, as well as the freedom to succeed, and, yes, the freedom to fail, are quintessential God-given rights guaranteed and protected by our Constitution and codified in our United States Bill of Rights.

And by the way, it might very well be the case that the freedom to fail is our most important right of all. Because we learn far more from our failures than we ever learn from successes. Can any of you testify? I know I can.

And so speaking of failure, I need to get something off my chest. And I know some of you won’t agree with me. But, as I’ve said before, if I wanted to be liked, or popular, I’d sell ice cream for a living.

So, let me be unequivocal about the following self-evident truth; it is unacceptable for a pastor of a church to be arrested in the United States for preaching the living and breathing word of God to his congregation which has the right to assemble under the United States Constitution. Always, every time, no exceptions. Full stop.

I must again remind all of us that our rights aren’t conditional and/or on loan from the government. Our rights, it can’t be said enough, are inalienable, and they come from our Creator, not the government. This truism is the very essence, indeed it is the very foundation of what our country’s War of Independence in 1775 was all about.

This is critical to understand because our inalienable rights weren’t always respected or protected. It is why America’s forefathers and mothers fought, died, and sacrificed everything they had to achieve the overthrow of British rule. Such a sacrifice was necessary because the King of England, who ruled over the original 13 Colonies saw things much differently.

In the King’s mind, our forefathers and mothers were his subjects and their rights were loaned to them by him. He received rights from God and then loaned them to the people at his discretion and could, therefore, be rescinded by him whenever he decided it was necessary or appropriate to do so. Can you imagine that? Well, allow me to help you.

What happened in Florida this past Sunday should send an icy chill up every freedom-loving Americans spine. As I wrote in a recently published column in the Santa Barbara Newspress, once we sheepishly surrender our inalienable rights to our government in exchange for the promise of protection, safety or security, we will never get them back.

Benjamin Franklin, who was perhaps America’s wisest statemen, said it best when he said over 200 years ago that if we the people of America ever choose to trade our liberty for security, we’ll deserve neither liberty nor security. Again, can you imagine that? I think you can.

So, I’ll leave you with this. Commit yourself to read more and learn more over these next several weeks as you’re confined in what feels a lot like house arrest. And I respectfully suggest you start by reading our nation’s founding documents including, of course, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution.