Liberty and character
Students challenged to build character in order to retain their liberties
Just because students at Bluffton University grew up with liberty and their parents grew up with liberty, there is no guarantee their children will have it.
The warning came from Lawrence Reed, president of the Foundation for Economic Education.
“In fact, if you look at the history of the world you will find that very few people that have lived, perhaps a single digit percentage of people who have ever lived, were said to have lived in a considerable degree of liberty,” said Reed.
Reed challenged students to build their character during Bluffton University’s first forum of the spring semester on Jan. 12, 2016, in order to retain their liberties.
“As young people. I hope you realize it’s never too soon to work on your character. You’ll never regret that,” said Reed.
The call to action was part of a presentation that explored the connection between liberty and character. Reed argued that without one, the other is impossible.
“I don’t think life, in the absence of liberty would be much fun at all. It might not even be worth living. Life in a situation where every move you make, every decision you make, these things are decided for you and imposed upon you, where you can’t be yourself. There are societies in this world today that come close to it— North Korea, Cuba,” said Reed.
Reed defined liberty as an environment in society where certain values are upheld and practiced so each of us can be ourselves and live in peace. Those values are part of the United States constitution and include the protection of private property, freedom of speech and the ability to vote for political leaders.
Reed singled out five character traits that make for a society where liberty can emerge and be sustained: honesty, self-reliance, responsibility, intellectual humility and courage.
He shared the stories of Thomas Clarkson, Fanny Crosby and Nicholas Winton, who he says used these traits to change the world.
Clarkson was an abolitionist in Great Britain and spent his life campaigning against the slave trade. He was a founding member of the Society for Abolition of the Slave Trade and was instrumental in the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.
Crosby was one of the most respected women in America in the 19th century. She was a mission worker, lyricist and composer. She met 21 U.S. presidents and was the first woman to address Congress. Her speech centered on the importance of mustering character. She did all of this despite becoming blind in infancy.
Winton organized the rescue of 669 children from Jewish refugee camps in Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II. He kept the mission secret, and the world learned of the story 40 years later. Reed said Winton’s story is an example that, “character is more than just important. It can be necessary for life itself. It can save lives.”
Along with the call to action, Reed ended his presentation with a verse from 2 Timothy. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Lawrence Reed singled out five character traits that make for a society where liberty can emerge and be sustained: honesty, self-reliance, responsibility, intellectual humility and courage.