Flat White

Covid: time for our leaders to remember freedom has never been free

17 September 2021

4:00 AM

17 September 2021

4:00 AM

Australia’s leaders should take note: sometimes, doing the hard thing is worth considering.

The easy thing is to wield one’s power, to lock down a place, to adopt discriminatory policies at the cost of individual liberty. Such things are, after all, done in the name of an effort to save every life.

The hard thing, the courageous thing, is to adopt policies one knows may result in any loss of life at all, no matter how few. It is impossible to know the internal conflict our leaders experience as they grapple with such realities, but this is where we must ask them to exhibit strength of character sufficient to sustain our shared higher purpose.

In all cases, the higher purpose we all must share is the preservation of liberty and the continuation of anti-discriminatory principles that, until now, have done Australia well.

So, should Australia abandon anti-discriminatory principles inherent to natural law in an effort to save every life, or should Australia sacrifice some for the many, if only to ensure the continuation of those legal principles we hope will govern the lives of our nation’s children? Policy cannot be perfect, but what it can be is protective of “self-evident” liberties.

As Australian history may lack the benefit of so many beautifully choreographed orations, let us borrow.

President John F. Kennedy reminded it was the responsibility of free peoples to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship … to assure the survival and the success of liberty”.

Is it not most important that we, at whatever cost and no matter the burden, refuse to abandon those fundamental principles that underpin the very freedoms that we all, as Australians, should consider principally important to our national survival and success?

Such would be the courageous thing. Meeting the costs to preserve our freedom, bearing this burden, making those sacrifices that might, from time to time, be required — this is what courageous leadership would look like.

Fundamental principles of freedom are meant to be applied for good AND bad, even when to the community’s detriment, because any period of exception — no matter how well-intentioned — places in jeopardy those freedoms we should, above all else, wish to preserve for the next generation.

Natural law, the very individual liberties that define the human condition, cannot be ignored to suit the day.  It is not within our gift, as mere mortals, to bend such principles to accommodate whatever circumstance may arise during the short timeline of our existence.

We are caretakers of liberty, and our primary responsibility is to those who will inherit the framework of the society we leave behind.  We must recognise freedom has never been free, and we must always be prepared to do the hard thing.  It will always be necessary for the bravest among us to sacrifice and fight for freedom’s survival, and Australia’s leaders — both in business and government — should take note, for many have chosen to champion policies that are an affront to foundational principles of natural law without which our descendants will not be free.

President Ronald Reagan noted, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. … It must be fought for, protected and handed on [to our children] to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like … where men were free”.

“Show me your papers” is only ever merely the beginning.  Vaccine passports, the limiting of certain rights to only those who are vaccinated, the freedom of movement and the ability to travel unimpeded, the ability to remain gainfully employed and to provide for one’s family–by their very nature, the restrictive systems being adopted by the Australian government, our various states, and many of our country’s business leaders are inherently discriminatory, for they will, in no uncertain terms, serve to exclude members of our community from participating fully in our society.

This does not a free country make, and there would have to be at least a few patriotic aged Australians who, perhaps with greater knowledge of history than that of our leaders, might have gladly given their lives — whether in war, or to this pandemic — to see that freedom doesn’t die instead.

The courageous thing sometimes requires sacrificing some for the many. Principles fundamentally necessary for the survival of a free society may not be applied at the government, or anyone’s option.

In seeking to achieve desired community outcomes, our business and government leaders must use the positions they occupy to educate and encourage, but they should do so while preserving individual liberties.  In turn, any failure to attain desired outcomes should be viewed as a failure of leadership, and not as a failure to implement sufficiently forceful restrictive or mandatory policies.

Liberty is an absolute.  We, as Australians, are either free or we are not, and our leaders should be sufficiently courageous to make the hard choices, for it is they who we entrust to protect for our children all those individual liberties we so proudly proclaim are central to the Australian experience–the same freedoms that, until now, only needed to be dreamed about by unfortunate peoples in other parts of the world.

The writer is fully vaccinated and has encouraged his friends, family, and colleagues to get vaccinated as well, subject to their consulting with their doctors and their consideration of what may be best given their respective situations.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Show comments