by Frank Ryan | March 26, 2020

Rights without responsibilities end in tyranny!

The Bill of Rights gives every American rights, freedoms, and liberty. The Bill of Rights and Constitution enumerate where my rights start and your rights stop and vice versa. It serves as a basis for public discourse.

I may have the right to freedom of speech but as the responsibility to defend the freedom of speech of those with whom I disagree. Right and responsibility.

The freedom of assembly is my right and defending the freedom of assembly of others with whom I disagree is my responsibility.

Worshiping as I see fit is my constitutional right as much it is my responsibility to defend your willingness and ability to worship or not worship as you see appropriate.

My right to bear arms shall be unquestioned but I have a obligation to use that right responsibly.

Our Declaration of Independence states that we have certain unalienable rights.  Those rights are not just words.  They mean something especially to those who served in the military supporting and defending our Constitution and our liberties.

The concept of liberty recognizes our rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Liberty includes those inalienable rights given to all created.  Freedom implies the ability to act such as our freedoms of speech, religion, assembly and to bear arms.  The minute one’s freedoms trample on the liberty of another, then conflict ensues and must be resolved.

The differences between freedom and liberty are significant. Within the concept of liberty comes a measure of personal accountability and responsibility. The concept of freedom is within the purview of government with the consent of the governed in our Constitution.  Nowhere, however, does one’s misbehaviors have the right to take away another’s freedoms and liberties.

Our nation is at a crossroads. Whenever the lines between rights responsibilities become blurred, government almost always oversteps its bounds.

One of the first leadership principles that all Marines and servicemembers learn is to take responsibility for your actions. That leadership principle is the basic premise for virtually every other character trait and leadership principle that the military teaches.

In a society which fails to exercise control within a recognized societal framework, the absence of personal responsibility will wreak havoc on those citizens and their attempt to improve their lot in life.

Personal responsibility is a critical aspect of accountability and, most importantly, it is also a right. The right to accept personal responsibility is essential to any individual exercising free will and to the society at large for its own long-term survival and growth.

The past 50 years have seen countless examples in which personal responsibility was shunned with disastrous effect.

For some reason, our problems seem to be someone else’s fault and the governed seek to restrict the liberties of others.  Liberty has been denied by placing restrictions on our freedoms because of the actions of another.

When a society becomes convinced that all their woes are the result of someone else’s actions, and that government intervention solves problems, the concept of personal responsibility and the liberty that personal responsibility brings are lost.

Personal responsibility does bring freedom.  It is liberating to realize that you can influence your own life without having your government intervene on your behalf.

Most importantly, you can begin the process of taking responsibility by looking inwardly for solutions to your problems and not seek governmental intervention as the quick fix.

A government that feels you are not capable of making sound, rational choices and decisions is supplanting your wisdom and self-determination with those of the collective good in their minds.   The concept of taking personal responsibility has been lost.

Taking personal responsibility brings freedom and starts the process of getting government out of your life.  It is so liberating to realize that you can influence your own life without having your government intervene on your behalf.

In this coming presidential election, remember “free college”, student loan forgiveness, free health care are but the start of the government being able to decide what is in your best interest.  You will, in 2020, be asked if you want a society which denies your ability to fail by concurrently denying your ability to succeed.

Our Founding Fathers left us a wonderful legacy.  What we do with that legacy is our decision and ours alone.  Pay now or pay later.

Frank Ryan, CPA, USMCR (Ret) represents the 101st District in the PA House of Representatives.  He is a retired Marine Reserve Colonel, a CPA and specializes in corporate restructuring.  He has served on numerous boards of publicly traded and non-profit organizations.  He can be reached at [email protected]