Lessons in liberty

Back in the mid-70s, I was on the Gladbrook junior high track team. Recent events caused me to reflect back on a track meet at Dysart. I was cheering on a friend in the pole vault competition. I noticed every time the bar was set higher, Dysart’s “star” pole vaulter took a pass. Under the rules, a participant was allowed to pass until they felt the bar was at a height that deserved their effort. Of course, if they failed to clear the bar when they chose to enter, they were out. Each time the official raised the bar a notch and called his name, he confidently waived them off. “Man, this kid must really be something!” I thought to myself.

As the bar got higher and higher, the field of competitors dwindled. Finally, there were only three left, including the kid from Dysart who had yet to even make a single attempt. With the bar now considerably higher than when the competition started, Dysart’s champion finally entered the competition. All eyes were fixed as he crashed through the bar once, twice, thrice. He was scratched as if he had never even showed up.

There is a great object lesson in this for those interested in the path our nation is on and the cause of liberty. Lesson 1 The cause of liberty ultimately comes down to the effort of each individual. Lesson 2 The bar of government control is usually raised one indiscernible notch at a time. Lesson 3 No encroachment on liberty is too small to ignore. Lesson 4 Champions of liberty must enter the arena of ideas before the obstacles are too great to overcome.

This lesson was more eloquently stated by the “Father of the Constitution” and fourth president, James Madison, “It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The freeman of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.”

We would do well to remember this as we listen to the siren song of the political class.