What *is* "Liberty"?

Have you ever considered the difference between your legal rights and your liberty? It's not as cut-and-dried as you may think, and it's too easy to reduce it to an intellectual exercise, full of word play and minutiae, rather than to take it personally, in every sense of the word.

Suppose, for example, a law was passed making it a crime to speak against the government. Suppose further that the law was challenged all the way to the Supreme Court - and was declared "Constitutional." You would no longer have that legal right - but would you retain your natural right to speak your mind when you see injustice and tyranny? If you witnessed your neighbor or coworker criticizing policy, would you report them to the authorities? Or would you condone this blatant criminal behavior? Where "the legal thing" and "the right thing" diverge, which path do you follow?

Constitutional rights are fundamentally important in these United States, but they are merely legal protections against infringements of our *natural* rights - our liberties that allow us to act as we will with minimal intrusion from another and without dependence upon them.

In April of 1819, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "Of Liberty then I would say that, in the whole plenitude of it’s extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will: but rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will, within the limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’; because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual."

Just something to ponder on an autumn day....