Liberty begins in the heart, not the law. A mind clouded with fear cannot know it rights; it will not use them. A heart filled with hate will not respect them in others. So in these moments, when we are weak and thrown to hate and fear, we must return to that highest mind, the mind that gave us these rights inalienably, and our deepest heart, the heart that demands we respect them in others. By whatever name, we must reconnect with the universal source of dignity.
Only there do we find the strength to be free in difficult moments. Only there do we find a way to truly defy terrorism. And only from there can we truly defeat it.
The true guardians of liberty need more than guns and bombs. All human beings know hate and fear: true guardians of liberty know them, have them, but guard against their yoke.
In that mindfulness there is a gift. A liberation not only of will, but of spirit. And a liberation not only of spirit, but of mind. A wisdom and a sensibility emerges: is the building on fire? No? Then take a deep breath. Calm down and think. What’s the real threat here? How do we deal with it sensibly, rationally? How do we manage our minds to bring our best to the problem?
So look carefully at those who would lead you. Know that those who lead by fear are themselves led by it. They are not fit leaders of free people. They do not have what it takes to be free in times like these. They deserve your compassion, not your allegiance.
In every dictator, there is a scared little boy, too afraid to face respected equals; in every backslider in the cause of liberty, a panicked, overwhelmed individual, compromising when they know they shouldn’t. Fear puts these simple principles out of their grasp: it is as important to know when to trust as not to. A nation’s greatest power is the goodwill of its people. And while security is important, respect for human dignity and basic freedom is both the deepest foundation and highest expression of that spirit.
So when you choose your representatives in the coming election, ask yourselves this: what kind of civilization do they stand for? How deeply civilized are they? How well do they think when their civilized nature is tested? Do they fixate on barricades, or do they seek ways to leverage the best of our nature to make our world both safer and freer? Free people must demand no less.