Individual Liberty & Fidelity
In the letter from a Birmingham jail, Dr. King spoke about our moral duty to obey just laws and our responsibility to disobey unjust laws when he said,
“One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all”.
Welcome to the second of our RISE principles. The “I” stands for Individual Liberty and Fidelity.
Again, the Bible tells us in both Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 that we should be law-abiding citizens. However, I Peter 2:16 also tells us that we are to,
“Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.”
Hence, we have a certain amount of liberty, but that liberty is kept in check by fidelity to our God and His law above all others.
In Deuteronomy 5:21, the tenth commandment states that we not covet or desire our neighbor’s wife or any of their possessions. The tenth commandment is actually the one law that governs the other nine, from the commands to have no other gods before Him, to not murdering, committing adultery, or stealing. We are encouraged to provide for ourselves, and not to scheme or misappropriate what belongs to others.
John Adams noted,
“Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Therefore, Individual Liberty and Fidelity requires:
Laws restrict the free exercise of liberty and property, consequently, no law should be passed unless there is a compelling reason to do so.
The proponents of any bill should have the burden of proof that passage is necessary. Laws should reflect the morals of our society but also encourage and promote individual character. Dr. King’s dream was that we’d be judged by the content of our character, and not by the color of our skin.
It was a nod towards a view of people as individuals and a break from skewed collectivistic thinking characteristic of Liberal thought.
Therefore, individuals should never be seen as only members or appendages of a larger group. Rather, we are each individual with rights as such.
These rights include, but are not limited to, those rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution. They should also include those God-given rights of freedom, not specified in any written document, which necessarily exists in a nation where the individual is more important than the state.
Conversely, these rights should not negate the responsibility of the individual’s obligation to conduct him/herself as a responsible and productive member of society. However, the State is only responsible to protect our rights from being infringed on, not to provide them. The right to bear arms or have healthcare does not mean the government is obligated to acquire them on your behalf.
No civilization can succeed and thrive for any duration unless free people act with fidelity to a core set of values and principles. Each one of us must be accountable for our actions, and to endeavor to build a better society to improve both our own lives and the lives of others.
All citizens are entitled to the security of self and property. The government’s primary task is the maintaining of law and order to ensure these rights are protected. Accordingly, the system of justice must afford all people access to competent representation, as well as a level playing field to ensure the imperatives of justice can be met.
Dr. King once explained the difference between a just law and unjust law:
“Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.”
Individual Liberty and Fidelity reflect the sanctity and dignity of all human life; while calling on each individual to live with discipline and purpose.
The preamble to R.I.S.E.
Individual liberty & fidelity