Personal responsibility should guide nation

OBy Chris Hill

on the one-year memorial of that horrendous, evil attack on our nation and our freedom, Americans still debate our continued plan of action. Whether it be a call for national ID cards, more subsidies or more restrictions in airports, one thing is certainly clear: Americans today are looking to the government rather than personal responsibility to ensure their safety.

Contrast this mentality to that of our nation only 60 years ago. In that time, Americans looked to friends, family and the church for help in dire situations if they were unable to help themselves. Military action was also sometimes needed, and not only did people support it through agreement, they took the responsibility of defending this nation upon themselves. Personal responsibility was one of our nation’s strongest values. The “Greatest Generation” did not demand government subsidies after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Nor did they protest retaliatory efforts. Rather, determined to do the right thing and realizing that personal responsibility was a much greater virtue than not, they took up arms and made great personal sacrifices to right the vice that had been enacted upon our nation. The national resolve was clear: the United States would not allow those who maliciously attacked us to get away with it. Justice, an absolute, must be done. As a result, the nation became unified in its fight, securing victory and a peace that has endured ever since.

On the other hand, after the Islamic fanatics’ attack of late, many prominent individuals have – in their attempt to protect Americans – proposed increased government regulations. These include national ID cards, federalization of airport workers, governmental racial profiling and other forms of privacy violations. The first two will not work. Unfortunately, the second was put into place and we are no safer today than we were on Sept. 10, 2001. The only difference is that now the innocent are harassed before entering airplanes, their Fourth Amendment violated in airports around the nation.

It will be conceded, however, that governmental racial profiling and privacy violations will and have, in fact, worked. To say they do not is ignorant. Nevertheless, a free society, accepting personal responsibility, must agree that freedom – despite its costs – is eternally more valuable than safety. These actions, while they do work, are unacceptable. We must accept the consequences because we believe that liberty is superior to security. As Benjamin Franklin affirmed, those who will give up liberty for safety deserve neither. But is the United States, 12 months after the attacks, willing to accept the responsibility of a free society in the upcoming years?

If we are ready to accept personal responsibility again, we must do a few things. First, we must continue the search for everyone involved in the cowardly attacks and bring them to justice, not being afraid to use military force in the process. History shows that appeasement and non-retaliation policies by free nations lead only to destruction. Ignorance dictates that peace will be maintained without a fight. Countries such as Iraq, whose evil terrorist dictator threatens us at every turn, must be attacked. To assume that these countries desire to live with us peacefully is absurd. The stipulation that would bring such a conclusion would be nothing short of the forfeit of our freedom. We must not be afraid to do the right thing, despite what other nations think. That is what personal responsibility is – doing what is right, no matter what.

Second, we must accept the internal costs. If we are to be a personally responsible people – a people of freedom – we must reaffirm certain values. We will not allow the government to interfere unnecessarily and unconstitutionally in our lives. We must also acknowledge our God-given right of self-defense. It is doubtful that terrorism, along with other criminal activity, will not decrease rapidly, knowing that a pilot on an airplane or a law-abiding citizen on the street may be armed. Responsible people are willing to take that step. Todd Beamer made it clear that ordinary people, ready to take personal responsibility, can better defend our nation than the most senior senator and his legislation.

Now a year later, are we, as Americans, as free people, as individuals and as a nation, ready to do what is right despite the cost? If our recent past is any measure, we are on the fence. Many Americans support military actions, but an opposition is rising. And even more frightening is that both groups also accept an intrusive government. The United States is in dire need of personal responsibility, and a growing number want to accept it. For those who are truly ready to turn this country from its government-dependent lifestyle to one of a personally responsible people, I say: “Let’s roll.”