The golden triangle of freedom

By Rick Webb

Cranberry RD

"Liberty cannot be established without, morality, nor without faith." -- Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville was born in France in 1805. He was a sociologist and political theorist. He was commissioned by the French government to travel to the United States in 1831 to study the prison systems here, but he got more of an education than he ever expected, and not about penitentiaries in America, but the reason our democratic republic works.

(Let's remember, France had just fought two bloody battles for "liberty" and still ended up with a king.)

This is a summation of Tocqueville's book "Democracy in America" by another that has been quoted by many, including various presidents as to what Tocqueville saw as the secret to America's greatness: "Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.

"America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great."

He saw clearly that it was the "goodness" of Americas' people that made America work; something in the culture of the people, their behavior, their beliefs. But they were not just beliefs. They were beliefs manifested in their behavior.

The word Tocqueville used was "mores;" meaning the habits of central importance accepted without question and embodying the fundamental moral views of a group.

He wrote: "I consider mores to be one of the great general causes responsible for the maintenance of a democratic republic."

Then he specified mores as "habits of the heart."

So what is the "secret" to freedom? This is it: Freedom equals Virtue equals Faith.

This was never a secret. The founders and society at the time commonly knew of this in their daily lives, but it had not been incorporated in any government system until now; i.e. Benjamin Franklin's response to Mrs. Powell's question in 1787, (A monarch or a republic?); "A republic, madam, if you can keep it."

The idea of virtue and morality being divorced from religion and faith was unthinkable. John Adams wrote: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

In other words, we must be motivated by something beyond the law; not to be forced, but certainly encouraged however possible.

So no, it was never a secret. We as Americans have just allowed society and government to degrade throughout time. We, as individuals, have not been vigilant. It takes work to keep true liberty.

Here is the lost or forgotten formula that was at the center of the founder's idea of our fragile form of government: freedom requires virtue. Virtue requires faith. Faith requires freedom.

It's a triangle; a golden triangle, the only way to have true liberty and freedom. Anything else will end up as a monarchy or worse.

You see, most governments thought (and still think) that freedom and religion are bitter enemies, marching in opposite directions, but when people fulfill the outward duties of religion, they become the freest, most enlightened people of the world, as Tocqueville saw.

It has to start with each and every individual, whatever your station is in life, in all you do. If we don't stand against things that are wrong, and stop allowing those in an authoritative position to tell us what to think and how we should live, contrary to what we know to be right, we will have no true freedom left in this country.

We have to stand for righteousness no matter what the "law" is. We need to be a virtuous people, doing good and refusing to do, or even to go along with evil.

The answer to American freedom is American virtue! -- Can you keep it?