"The more liberty you give away the more you will have."
This quote, attributed to Robert G. Ingersoll, made me feel uncomfortable upon first reading. In this day of Big Government, Big Brother and seeming involuntary relinquishment of personal rights and freedoms the very thought of 'giving away liberties' appeared as the clarion call of disaster. As one of those Quote of the Day emails I let it sit in my inbox while I mulled over my discomfort.
On the surface this quote has the air of nobility. Perhaps Ingersoll was alluding to a "Greater Good" doctrine. Perhaps by relinquishing my person liberty it was some how contributing to society's liberty. Still, I felt disconnected. Something just was not right. So I sought out to further understand Ingersoll's possible intent. I came upon the following quote.
"Liberty is my religion. Liberty of hand and brain — of thought and labor, liberty is a word hated by kings — loathed by popes. It is a word that shatters thrones and altars — that leaves the crowned without subjects, and the outstretched hand of superstition without alms. Liberty is the blossom and fruit of justice — the perfume of mercy. Liberty is the seed and soil, the air and light, the dew and rain of progress, love and joy."
When I read this quote I learned two things. It became clear that Ingersoll is a very staunch advocate of personal responsibility. He calls upon himself with "hand and brain - of thought and labor" to break the bonds of intellectual and spiritual tyranny. He raises Liberty as the pinnacle of personal self worth.
Still the thought of giving away Liberty was unsettling to me. It was until I changed my perspective as a reader. If, as a follower, I gave up something on the promise of receiving more it fell right in line with the criticism leveled at Big Government/Big Brother. If I, as a leader, gave more liberty away, aiding in the breaking of intellectual and spiritual bonds, then as a society we indeed would become freer.
Good on ya, Bob