Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."

Thursday, August 21, 2003

An excerpt from the commencement address of Princeton Professor Robert George to the graduating class of Hillsdale College:

"True freedom consists in the liberation of the human person from the shackles of ignorance, oppression and vice...True freedom, the freedom that liberates, is grounded in truth and ordered to truth and, therefore, to virtue. A free person is enslaved neither to the sheer will of another nor to his own appetites and passions. A free person lives uprightly, fulfilling his obligations to family, community, nation and God. By contrast, a person given over to his appetites and passions, a person who scoffs at truth and chooses to live, whether openly or secretly, in defiance of the moral law is not free. He is simply a different kind of slave.

"The counterfeit of freedom consists in the idea of personal and communal liberation from morality, responsibility and truth. It is what our nation’s founders expressly distinguished from liberty and condemned as 'license.' The so-called freedom celebrated today by so many of our opinion-shaping elites in education, entertainment and the media is simply the license to do whatever one pleases. This false conception of freedom – false because disordered, disordered because detached from moral truth and civic responsibility – shackles those in its grip no less powerfully than did the chattel slavery of old. Enslavement to one’s own appetites and passions is no less brutal a form of for being a slavery of the soul. It is no less tragic, indeed, it is in certain respects immeasurably more tragic, for being self-imposed. It is ironic, is it not, that people who celebrate slavery to appetite and passion call this 'freedom'?

"Counterfeit freedom is worse than fraudulent. It is the mortal enemy of the real thing. Counterfeit freedom can provide no rational account or defense of its own normative claims. It speaks the language f rights, but in abandoning the ground of moral duty it provides no rational basis for anyone to respect the rights of others or to demand of others respect for one’s own rights. Rights without duties are meaningless. Where moral truth as the ground of duties is thrown overboard, the language of rights is so much idle chatter fit only for Hollywood tail parties and faculty lounges. Hadley Arkes, the great contemporary theorist of natural rights, has observed in relation to the movement for unfettered abortion that those who demand liberation from the moral law have talked themselves out of the moral premises of their own rights and liberties. If freedom is to be honored and respected, it must be because human freedom is what is required by the laws of nature and nature’s God; it cannot be because there are no laws of nature and there is no God."