The Responsibilities of Having Freedom

The Responsibilities of Having Freedom 


A Passionate Dream about America

I had a dream a couple of weeks ago. The content of the dream, the responsibilities of having freedom, was something that you’d never guess would wake up a person.

It was one of those that when you wake up, you just gotta write it all down! That’s what happens to me occasionally, anyway.


You’d think that when you have a dream about flag and country, that you’d either chalk it up as the usual musings or forget about it all together when you wake up.

But that’s not the way it worked for me.  I woke up with a feeling so strongly and specifically about the Declaration of Independence that I jumped up and searched for the notepad.

Now, if you’re thinking that I’m about to begin writing partisan politics, stay tuned because I have a message for you that is much different.  But I can tell you this:  so much of my inspiration and background come from Thomas Jefferson, a man who fully understood the responsibilities of having freedom. TJ was a man who was at the heart of our earliest partisan politics.

Here is the summary of the dream in one sentence:

Our inalienable rights are both personal and societal in the same breath. Never confuse an inalienable right and a legislated right. 


The Power of Listening

Thomas Jefferson found himself on the other side of opinion to Federalists Washington, Hamilton, Adams and others. He found himself on the side of the power of people over the power of bureaucracy. Of course, we now know that he soon discovered the need for both in a balance.

Yet we seem to forget this early lesson of balance from TJ’s time. Political bickering in Washington has its very roots back in the day of the birth of our great country.  But Thomas Jefferson understood the power of going beyond bickering to reach into a person’s psyche in order to open the person’s mind to let his own point of view be heard.

He actually listened and then he fully acknowledged what the other person had to say.  In this way, he earned the right to embed his point of view in the other person’s mind.

The other person realized that Jefferson was careful to court their opinion, and so opened their mind to him. Jefferson then thoughtfully placed his own opinion in the mix. In this way, the person opposite Jefferson felt obliged to listen and to acknowledge Jefferson.

Simple, yet very effective.

And so while political bickering has always been a part of the fabric of our society, I’m here to tell you right now that political bickering of today is harmful and not healthy as was the original design of the American experiment. Our bickering and differences have gone well past the model of being constructive and are dangerously destructive.

The sooner we begin to understand that it IS harmful and we start being constructive with our social conversations, the sooner we can begin to work together as was the original design.

Help us fix the original design of constructive dialogue.  

Very few people are listening and acknowledging those with a different view. We can all learn a great deal from how Mr. Jefferson handled people.


It’s Not Only about Individual Freedoms, it’s About Our Collective Freedom

Our inalienable rights are both personal and societal in the same breath. Never confuse an inalienable right and a legislated right. 

As citizens of this nation, we must all realize that our strength happens because of our individual rights coupled with our collective right to exist as a free society.

As I began writing down the details of my dream, I began to immediately feel that surge of adrenaline that accompanies a real passion. So it’s my hope that I truly can convey what I mean to you today.


I continued to write my stream of consciousness, and here is the basis of what I wrote:

“When Thomas Jefferson wrote the words and the entire thought process in his summary of the Declaration, he wrote, “…We hold these truths to be self-evident.  That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.  That among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…“.

So many people today read these words, along with the Amendments to the Constitution, that give even more rights to individuals and groups of individuals, and think only about how that empowers them personally.

 Some people don’t understand that these words give people the power to be harmful, regardless of the freedom they are afforded by our very creeds. The words of Thomas Jefferson weren’t only about individual freedom, but our collective freedom as a society of free people. 

I call it Freedom with Responsibility. You see, this is the preamble to the overall declaration document that told Great Britain that we weren’t going to stand for their abuses over us any longer, and that we would now embark on a journey of self-government.

Individual rights were unheard of back in that day and this would be the first experiment in the world to create a government that included them.

Our forefathers set out to build a framework that made this exercise a house made of brick. They knew full well that individual rights would crumble without a house built on balance between individual and our overall societal freedom.

That is the experiment called the United States of America.


Freedom with Responsibility

This framework that was created by our forefathers is the fabric of the collective rights of us all that holds the original individual rights together.

All of this wouldn’t be necessary in a perfect world, but we don’t live in one.

My fellow Americans, my passion is about Freedom with Responsibility. This is a code that I believe is written on our hearts, as well as in the words of the Declaration.


Read How it Was Done

Get books on Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, George Washington and James Madison. See how they were all different people who together believed this very core idea.

Who could envy them?  They had a job to design a government and systems that governed the masses while protecting the rights of individuals.  They had a job of creating a society that honored their individual freedoms, while realizing that the power of individual freedoms is what makes the SYSTEM strong.

So many awesome tasks for such a small nation.  But we did it.

The work of Congress was, and remains, to erect and protect the framework that would support individual rights. Our forefathers created this framework and fabric of collective rights to support our individual inalienable rights.

The subsequent laws that we have written are legislative rights to support the inalienable ones.


Individual Powers together with Collective Power

Here’s where our conversation today comes back around to individual responsibility for the freedoms afforded to us:  What power do we have as individuals? Where does it come from?

As Thomas Jefferson wrote: “…that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  This is where we find our individual power.  But these individual powers are governed by our equality.  “…That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”

We are all equal and on an equal plane because these rights were endowed to us, bestowed to us, by our Creator TOGETHER as individuals and as a society of free people. At any moment in time, the society as a whole and the individuals of that society, co-exist under this initial moral declaration.


We are More than the Sum of our Parts

We are more than the sum of our parts. We have individual rights, as well as rights for society as a whole. Our individual rights can’t exist unless our right as a free society exists at the same moment in time.

The Sovereign Creator, individual rights and collective rights must coexist in order for the experiment of the United States to succeed.

Our inalienable rights are both personal and societal in the same breath. Never confuse an inalienable right and a legislated right.


What does that mean?

It does not matter whether one believes in God or not, the fact is that our founding freedom written by the Founding Fathers agreed that we begin on this basic moral ground, and so our discussions must also begin there.  A person doesn’t have to believe in God, but they have to understand that the Founding Fathers had a basic faith and recognized that for the good of all citizens, believers or not, that we must begin our understanding of rights with:

We hold these truths to be self-evident.  That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.  That among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


We’re in This Thing Together

Ok, this little word play of mine isn’t going to go toward religion and whether or not a person believes a certain thing.  Regardless of your personal belief system, there is no doubt that we are IN THIS THING TOGETHER.  As Benjamin Franklin said.  “Well, we must hang together, or we will assuredly hang separately.”  The meaning of this statement was clear, and it is an indicator of our collective strength (not only in their physical situation, that they were all headed for the gallows if they failed. A very foresighted statement, yes??).

We’re all together on the same plane.  That makes our Creator, however you decide to define your Creator, to be on the plane ABOVE ours.  Our Creator is SOVEREIGN.

We’re not meant to fear each other, we are meant to fear (respect) our SOVEREIGN. Because we’re in this together, we pass laws that help us understand and PROTECT EACH OTHER, not harm each other.

The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The right to a free press.  The right to bear arms.  Women’s right to vote.  These all stem from an original suppression and ultimate group freedom that resulted.

When that freedom is expressed, it should never be toward the harm of any individual.  This is a check and balance.


The Declaration Was About Freedom with Responsibility

I am writing this to you today to tell you that our original document, and the original intention of this document was for all empowered INDIVIDUALS to EXPRESS their FREEDOM with the RESPONSIBILITY by acknowledging that the right itself is a collective one.

Separately, understand the difference between a moral right: inalienable ones endowed by the creator, and a legislated right: the freedom of the press.


When the Declaration of Independence was created, it is quite clear that the intent of the rights we were endowed by our Creator were moral rights.  This cannot be lost on our new society when we discuss the amendments to the constitution or other subsequent laws.  

Not every subsequent right that is written into law is necessarily a moral one: Freedom of the Press was legislated.  It can be argued that Freedom of the Press is moral in the face of oppressors and liars.  Good, but let us acknowledge the moral component and the legislative components.  It is good to realize that we will defend the right to a free press with morals.

Let us not erode the basic moral content of the preamble of the Declaration of Independence to the same reverence as legislation. This preamble is a complete declaration and perfect summary of the intent of our forefathers. 


Our nation’s structure depends upon a good balance of personal and collective freedom.  That’s how it’s designed to work.  Too much talk of personal freedoms lead to selfish talk which leads to hurtful actions.  Too much collective freedom (or lack of personal freedom) breeds something more of a socialist government rather than a democratic one. That can lead others to believe that talk of protecting the rights of the collective is an attack on personal freedom.


Call to Action

Help your local, state and federal government by not participating in hateful talk. Rather, be constructive and call for action when you see some religious organization abuse their legislative rights. Yes, even in the face of obvious corruption and lies, call for action rather than fuel the fires of hatred, for the basic good ideals of our society will win the day. Hate talk goes nowhere.

There is a moral obligation to review our INDIVIDUAL rights to expression.  Whenever any expression causes harm, it’s time to think long and hard about that freedom and to assure that laws and systems are in place to protect the collective body.


Yet we go on hurting each other because we think that our individual freedoms are somehow above our collective freedom.  Think about that.


Are you in these situations?

We live in a tough world where not all people are in this together, but are for themselves (an organization or a corporation, e.g.).  We live in a world where the freedom of the press can mean the glorification of a criminal because ‘the people have the right to know’, rather than a moral compass that takes our press leadership to task to make rules for the better of society, like a press gag rule on serious crimes (can anybody say, ‘money rules the hearts and the headlines’?).

We are in a country where the gun violence is horrifically out of control, yet there is seemingly no moral compass from those who are the loudest proponents of gun ownership.

It is the gun owners who are responsible and have the power to help control the violence. Yet those who stand to gain monetarily are leading the charge to make sure more money gets into their coffers as they advertise about a personal freedom to own a gun, as if this personal freedom (a legislated right) trumps a person’s obligation to assure a safe society (inalienable right).

Large scale murder is happening in this country as life is extinguished in the womb, yet it seems that our personal freedoms that are legislated as a right seem to outweigh the overwhelming desire of the people of this nation to preserve those lives. Those who cry the loudest about the attack of personal freedom are responsible for finding the moral solution to stop the killing.


Let’s Fix This Together

Who is responsible to fix these things?  YOU and ME.  Period.  Do not let partisan politics rule your heart, let a spirit of fixing what ails our COLLECTIVE SOCIETY rule your heart.  Let a spirit of ‘reaching across the aisle’ be the reason you exist.  You may say, ‘that’s not my job, that’s the job of my representative in congress!’  And I say it’s YOUR job to reach across the aisle of your neighbor’s driveway, not sit back and only selfishly enjoy the collective freedom bestowed on us.  Let the politicians be partisan and let us have constructive conversations.


Point That Finger Back at You

Now it’s your turn.  Join in with others who proclaim Freedom with Responsibility.  Create local chapters in your neighborhoods and across social media that shout: #Freedom with Responsibility:  I care about our rights.

In this age of instant social and other media outlets, partisan bickering rages out of control without construct.  Ask yourself if this is helpful.  Turn that ship around.  There’s no way we’ll stop everybody from posting hateful stuff, but don’t fuel the fire.

Start a new fire!  Each and every time a conversation turns to finger pointing say, “Point That Finger Back at You”.  What can YOU do about the problem rather than complain about who you don’t agree with.  

Please remember that the spread of fear and finger-pointing solves nothing.  It accomplishes nothing.  The spread of hope accomplishes everything.  The spread of hope isn’t just all roses, it paves the way for constructive conversations of reality.  The spread of fear only paves the way for arguments.

America doesn’t thrive solely on individual rights, it thrives on the rights that we have together.

When only finger-pointing and fear happen with no constructive conversation, the fabric of society begins to tear apart.  In the age of instant communications, the fear sound byte carries on way too long.

Because humans crave the rush of fear, this dominates our headlines rather than having our headlines dominated by constructive negotiations.  Now we have ‘false news’ cycles. Oh perfect storm!

Even if someone pushes your buttons and isn’t being helpful, be a better influence in your response to them.  De-escalate.

How Has Anyone Caused Harm?

How as anyone caused harm? When they speak disrespectfully of any candidate or their supporters, for they are exercising their individual right in a very non-constructive way. Speaking disrespectfully doesn’t somehow magically make another citizen change their vote.

Now we find ‘false news’ stories that hugely exaggerate a candidate’s personal failing, and we somehow think that’s ok. We’re all smart enough to figure out for ourselves how to act and how to vote.

We all listen to the fear that is put forth in our discussions of the politics of today. We walk and talk about fearing each other, and in the process we disrespect our Sovereign.  We have candidates and political news channels that only talk of fearing the other and personal attacks rather than constructive talk. Have you participated in this fear?

If you don’t agree, please keep your comments and conversations civil.  I respect your views, but I won’t approve opinions of hate on this blog.  If you have a real passionate point that you want to make in opposition, please present it thoughtfully.


Tweet #Freedom With Responsibility

Sometimes the things I dream of at night are nonsense.  But sometimes I get dreams that just scream for a pen and paper.  If you agree with my dream, then share this article far and wide.  Tweet #Freedom With Responsibility and share on other social media.

Please give me some comments below, and remember to keep it civil!




Steve Cass at createwealthonline.comAbout Steve. 

A working guitarist, guitar designer, songwriter, worship leader and online entrepreneur, I have discovered that the key to online success (and success is more than money) is simply to focus on helping people be successful.


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