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afraid of something — imaginary or not — may it then control your life completely in order to guarantee FDR’s “freedom from fear”? Does depending on government to ensure “freedom from fear” not incentivize government to invent new fears that only additional government powers can vanquish? Does this not subsidize fear with taxpayer dollars and guarantee that government will always strive to make citizens afraid? Can it really be true that individual liberty should be “allowed” to exist only when there is nothing that can hurt us? Isn’t that what a master might tell his slaves?

If truth exists independently from governmental decree, and science is a process in search of truth, then why are governments working with Google, Facebook, and Twitter to censor scientific debates? Is truth so fragile that it will not survive false attacks? Is science so dependent on “official edicts” that it must be regulated and practiced only by a small priestly caste? If scientific consensus depends on government creating a monopoly over information, does this mean that truth is whatever government deems it to be? Since government is incentivized to invest in fear, is it likely that government will ever declare a truth that isn’t also scary?

If government power grows by monopolizing information and weaponizing fear, then isn’t the greatest threat to government an independent citizen unafraid of thinking for himself? Is it not true, then, that every single person is capable of destroying the illusion of total government control? Is it not true that leaders can rise from anywhere — whether at local school board meetings, in football stadiums, or even from spontaneous testimonials during Red Lobster dinners? Is it difficult to imagine “freedom speakeasies” popping up wherever freedom is outlawed? Is it not true that there are more citizens than jail cells and that when enough people choose to disobey unjust laws, government must choose either to change the laws or lose its powers? Is it not true that every fight for freedom throughout history has started with a spark that catches fire? Is it not also true that sometimes the worst brushfires spread, and things get unbearably hot for a while, but then great growth rebounds after that?

I am of the firm opinion that not only does the course of history refuse to follow some linear arrangement dictated by those in positions of power, but that it also often ricochets against the most concerted efforts of those attempting to direct its currents. During these moments of self-inflicted backfire, history is up for grabs, great leaders rise, and even greater ideas emerge. For Americans, the propositions that set our ancestors free beckon once again.

As President Coolidge observed in his timeless 1926 speech celebrating the 150th anniversary of America, some truths are set in stone: “If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.”

We didn’t ask for this moment, but should we have the strength of character to see it for what it is, then we have the power to determine what happens next. All we have to decide is that freedom is worth defending with the time that is given to us.

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