Arms, Faith And The God-Endowed Right Of Liberty

Alan Keyes
Former Assistant Secretary of State

[I recently read that Erik Prince Believes Trump will eventually privatize Afghanistan War. This resulted in the train of thought developed in today’s article. This article ends with a question I addressed in a separate piece, that may be of interest: Privatizing war—Will it be dangerous to liberty]

If the citizenry in a democratic constitutional republic forego personal responsibility for the defense of their liberty, this may signify that they have lost the character required to sustain their self-government. This observation follows the logic of the U.S. Constitution’s 2nd Amendment. Contrary to the fearful mentality the elitist faction’s adherents encourage these days, that amendment’s logic does not tie “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” to individual self-preservation. Rather, it observes that “a well- regulated militia” is “necessary to the security of a free state.” Thus, the motive for assuring that the people have a properly disciplined familiarity with the use of arms is to secure their liberty, the state or condition in which they remain, as a people, free to exercise their God-endowed unalienable rights, including the right of self-government.

The principles on which the American people asserted their free state are succinctly summarized in the Declaration of Independence. According to those principles, the purpose of human government is to secure the exercise of God-endowed unalienable rights. These rights are, in the first instance, the self-determinations of His power through which, as the Creator, God brings humanity into being. They are the dispositions of God that preserve and serve humanity. These dispositions are conveyed in the code that informs the existence of each and every individual human being, the code that gives and takes account of that which makes them distinctly human. This code is, therefore, the seed of human self-government.

When speaking of human governments, the people of our nation’s founding generation never conflated freedom with licentiousness. The reference to “a well-regulated militia” illustrates this fact. The word “regulation” signifies order according to law. Our Declaration of Independence clearly recognizes that the purpose of human government is to secure God endowed unalienable rights embedded in each individual. Each unalienable right involves doing right according to that code. Thus, God makes provision for humanity’s use of His power of action and perceptions, including the power to envision distinct alternatives and choose between them, which is His freedom, and the substance that empowers freedom in human form.

The 2nd Amendment is not just about firearms, as people these days imprecisely claim. It is about making sure that all people committed to doing what is right according to God’s code (i.e., using their freedom in a well-regulated fashion), are never barred from possessing the means to thwart those who oppose and seek to thwart their activities. It’s about empowering them to do so in the context of God’s lawful discipline. It includes prescribed practices which, in common, they volunteer to undertake, so as to be properly prepared to act confidently together, as they exercise their just powers (i.e., powers derived from God’s government) to preserve their freedom, rightly used –which is their freedom, as and when it is used according to the terms of God’s will.

In this exercise of just power they aim not only to preserve themselves, but to fulfill God’s primordial intention to bring about, serve and preserve the existence of humanity, in orderly and peaceful habitation of the world. Thus, though rights arise in individual human beings, they serve the common good of all the earth. To achieve this aim requires people with sufficient courage and good will to live with God’s lawful discipline, and participate, insofar as they are able, in the practices required to follow it.

Paid professional military forces may be necessary to provide, as it were, the trellises to raise up such people in the way that they should go. But what if, instead, most of them become so timid and/or preoccupied with their own narrowly self-interested pursuits, that they prefer that others secure their liberty, for pay? Assuming that the community could afford to maintain large enough professional forces, why won’t this suffice for the security of a free state?

If physical safety, and or the conquest or control of other peoples and nations is the goal, maybe it does. In the past nations have sometimes relied on such forces. Monarchs and Emperors, in ancient and modern times, have done so, as have the elitist oligarchies that occasionally break humanity’s monotonous history of singularly despotic rule. But no democratic republic has long endured beyond the era when its military forces could rely on the character and good will of the people.

Mercenary armies are loyal to their pay in money or the spoils of war, and to whomever most reliably provides them. Was Rome a major exception? Only if we are willing to pretend that, in the last several centuries before the Caesars, it was not an oligarchy, in which the Roman Senate, ruled. The people had only the short-lived influence they could, in extremis, extort with violent tumults and disorder. Even then, they required leadership drawn from the ranks of the elite few.

As their name implies, modern democratic republics depend on the strength of the people, not on elite individuals temporarily moved by their sympathetic passions. The strength of the people depends, in turn, on their decent character. It therefore reflects the extent to which people are able to find and sustain, within themselves, the self-discipline that human nature puts within the reach of most human beings.

This discipline is naturally apparent in our habits of familial affection and responsibility. The evidence of their importance pervades the whole scheme of natural life. Reflection upon this pervasive evidence, so much in accord with the code that informs their own disposition, is what allows human understanding to discover piety, among the rights that God’s will unalienably entails upon the endowment he bequeaths to all humanity.

Piety thus points to the first principle of moral reasoning, which is the authority of God. The natural affection that sustains human procreation provides the first premise of human moral perception. The sense of responsibility that gives rise to and sustains the obligations of human family life. This informs the understanding that translates moral perception into action. The self-discipline that result is not the privileged property of but a few; it has been among the first belongings of almost all human beings, in every age, almost as surely as breathing.

Procreation and family life thus provide pervasive evidence that the capacity for self-discipline is common to all humanity. It may also provide evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that, except for life itself, the disposition to serve the common good of humanity is the most common of all human belongings. But these two virtues—individual self-discipline and the will to serve the common good—are the primordial components of the self-government. Furthermore, this means that the character it requires is within the reach of many, not just a privileged few. They key to self-government is to make sure this character, which combines self-discipline and the will to serve the common good, is so widespread that it becomes the character of the people as a whole.

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