A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Lauren and Rob Hudson: Positive message for America’s youth — exceptionalism through freedom

Columns for families based on the book “It Can Be Done” @studentsleadusa

Freedom has been essential to America’s success. Unfortunately, it’s widely misunderstood. Freedom doesn’t mean having the right to do nothing and having others do everything for us. Freedom doesn’t mean having the right to violate local laws like running stop signs or hitting people, and freedom doesn’t mean having the power to take something from someone else through fraud or force. In America, freedom means being free from unreasonable government control of our lives.

We live in a country founded to be free from burdensome government. Freedom allows us to work and keep most of what we earn to build for our futures. Freedom allows us to own property and to generally use it as we see fit. After all, we earned it. Freedom also allows us to speak and worship freely. As we study our country’s founding documents, we see freedom from government as a top priority of the country’s first leaders.

We can be proud of different aspects in our heritage with respect to freedom from government. Most of the people who came to America from Europe early in our history wanted freedom desperately, enduring hardships to get here. People left their families and belongings, starting out with nothing but hope.

Our freedom comes from a Constitution which specifies what the federal government can do, which does not include everything. The Constitution’s Bill of Rights even lists several things which the government cannot do. In a free country, everything else is supposed to be left up to us – the people and the states and cities in which we live. Our Founders understood that if our governments did everything, we wouldn’t end up with much freedom.

These original ideas became fundamental parts of American exceptionalism. We will not have a king or a dictator; instead, we will elect our representatives to government. By placing responsibility with the citizens, not rulers, people had to figure out for themselves how to succeed. And most of them did.

Our system unlocked great potential. We invented things. We explored. We wrote, spoke and attended church. We built skyscrapers, cities, charities, and businesses. We developed technology. We created the world’s largest economy, and we enjoyed the highest standard of living in history. We didn’t start with much, but we began doing this in the 1700’s and our progress continues to this day.

We should take an interest in our freedom. If the government takes away our property or freedom, or someone else’s property or freedom, even to accomplish what some people think is a good purpose, it’s still a loss of freedom. At the very least, with every new government law, regulation, or tax, we should pause and consider the cost, which includes the partial loss of freedom or property for someone.

Each day people debate how far government should go. The direction in which we head can change with each election. As adults, we will be part of that debate with every vote we cast. The way we vote in a particular election may depend on how much or how little we want the government to be involved in our lives.

As leaders, let’s first make sure our governments can do things for us which we can’t possibly do for ourselves, like build bridges, defend the country, and help protect us from crime. We should also give some thought to where we stand on freedom and independence. America’s system has worked very well compared to how poor countries have done without freedom and private property ownership.

The bottom line is that without freedom, our hopes and dreams of real success in this world wouldn’t mean much. Without freedom, hundreds of millions of success stories in America would not have happened. Americans should think twice about surrendering freedoms which have enabled us to become exceptional.

Join us next week when we explore the common ground of patriotism. Brown Todd LLC Member Rob Hudson is a Past Chair of the Northern Kentucky Chamber and a recipient of its Frontiersman Award. 2018 Independent Author of the Year Lauren Hudson is a Singletary Scholar at the University of Kentucky.

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