What's The Difference Between Liberty And License?

What's The Difference Between Liberty And License?

Liberty - we all strive for it, but what is true liberty?


The word I have shouted from the rooftops - liberty! Liberte! Wolnosc! Libertad! This one word that billions across the world hold so dear means the world to all of us. What is liberty? And is there a difference between liberty and license?

We all have ambition within us, and this in itself isn't bad - but we must keep a careful check on it. Guard your heart, my dear reader, and let your power be used for good and not evil.

"Ambition and intrigue abuse the credulity and experience of men lacking all political, economic, and civic knowledge; they adopt pure illusion as reality; they take license for liberty, treachery for patriotism, and vengeance for justice. If a people, perverted by their training, succeed in achieving their liberty, they will soon lose it, for it would be of no avail to endeavor to explain to them that happiness consists in the practice of virtue; that the rule of law is more powerful than the rule of tyrants, because, as the laws are more inflexible, everyone should submit to their beneficent austerity; that proper morals, and not force, are the bases of law; and that to practice justice is to practice liberty." - Simon Bolivar (emphasis added)

We must be careful and look at our motives. Do we want liberty for the sake of our rights or for the sake of doing whatever feels good? Do we want true justice, or do we just want revenge? Motivation is the deciding factor, and the heart is a powerful tool.

Liberty is a set of rights granted to us by nature - it is common ground found in the depths of human nature. Alas, many have mistaken liberty for license. Dear reader, I caution you to avoid this pitfall at all costs. Hold liberty up as your light to guide you on life's journey. May the glory of liberty shine forever! License is an abuse of liberty that will result in anarchy and chaos, and anarchy will, in the end, destroy liberty as people will look for a strong man to save them from the upheaval around them.

Take freedom of speech alone, my dear reader:

You can criticize the government if you must, and you can speak your beliefs on issues and situations. This freedom does not protect foolish speech - if you deliberately threaten the president or another person, you will face the consequences. Freedom of speech does allow us to say things such as "President Trump is taking too much power" or "President Obama did x unconstitutional thing" without repercussions. Without freedom of speech, we would be saying "yes" to everything the government says. We wouldn't be able to talk loudly in cafes while complaining about politicians - there would be silence.

This is liberty.

License is abusing this right to threaten another person's safety and to spread false information. License should not be included under freedom of speech. If you want to speak your mind just to get revenge on somebody who did you wrong, this is license. But if you are truly concerned with justice when you see that somebody committed a crime, then yes, do indeed speak, for that is liberty. The line between liberty and license becomes more distinct when we examine the motivation.

Freedom of religion is another cornerstone of humanity. Religion governs the conscience of humanity and should never be infringed on by the government. I shall define religion as a set of rules and as a worldview that all humans adhere to. Whether it is Atheism, Protestantism, Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism, everybody has a worldview that shapes their daily interactions. No government should interfere in this right because it strikes at the very core of the conscience. The church and the state each govern in their separate spheres of influence, and this is liberty - to follow your own faith and your own religion. License is when somebody harms others in the name of their religion, such as when people vandalize Jewish cemeteries. This is awful and strikes at the very conscience. You have a right to believe and talk about your religion, but you have no right to vandalize or harm people from another religion.

Freedom of the press: True freedom of the press is being allowed to spread words of truth and words of information, no matter how unsavory this knowledge may be to some people. You should be allowed to mention and publish information that a ruling party may disagree with. This does not mean you are given the license to use the press to mock and ridicule opponents, for this can be considered slander and is license. Using the press to tell people the truth is liberty, and using books and publications to express your beliefs is liberty.

Freedom of assembly: Multiple rights and liberties are combined into this. You can gather at a local cafe with friends and discuss anything you please. People may gather in a church and worship in the manner they see fit. You may gather in a political club and discuss strategies for your candidate to win the election. This is a liberty and one that should not be infringed on - but even if it is infringed on, people will still meet underground and in secret.

There is no human on earth who does not want liberty. Sometimes people mistake license for liberty, and this is where the line gets messy. If you had complete liberty to do whatever you wanted, where would be the liberty in that? For as that age old quote states, "One man's liberty ends where another's begins." If we all exercise license instead of liberty, anarchy will reign and people will turn to a strongman ruler like a Napoleon, who, in the end, will take away all liberties, for that is the nature of such power and such desperation.

Know what your natural liberties are, my dear reader, and defend them at all costs. Do not forget to examine your heart to make sure you aren't confusing liberty and license, for once that happens, you destroy them both. Liberty is what we all strive for and what we all desire. There is glory in seeking liberty, but in seeking license, it becomes revenge and darkness. Hold up liberty to the light, read about her daily, and think about what liberty means, not only for yourself but for those around you.

Oh, dear reader, may you forever guard liberty as your most valuable possession. It is already yours, and do not listen to the lies that confuse liberty and license.

My friend, mon cher amie, I could go on for an entire book length on this subject that I hold so dear, but I must bid you adieu for now.

Vive la liberte!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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