All Commentary
Thursday, November 1, 1984

A Page on Freedom: Number 13

Liberty Means Responsibility

My argument against socialism is that America already has the best economic and political system yet devised, and that this is proven by her glorious record—and not in a paper blueprint. America did not become the breadbasket, the factory, the bank, and the hope of the world by following the wrong systems or believing in the wrong principles. Her solution is to reacquaint herself with her own best way of life, and to live up to its tenets more faithfully—not to throw it away before she has completely understood or practiced it.

American capitalism has never failed; only some of our human capitalists have failed. Whenever a free-enterpriser achieves his own goal, and then attempts to shut the door of opportunity behind him, or to choke off the free play of competition around him, then he has cheated his own system. Whenever believers in freedom discriminate against minorities, or show favoritism to meritless friends, then they are sabotaging their own constitutional principles and weakening the foundations upon which America was built. Whenever individuals or groups in America use the political power to gain advantage at the expense of others, then such persons or groups are undermining the structure of our republic, and the results Will be evil and unjust. Whenever an American acquires wealth or power—and then fails to be a good and honest steward of these benefits—then he not only denies the principles of America, he denies the principles of Christianity.

The answer, and the only answer, is for all of us to educate ourselves to the responsibilities as well as to the benefits of freedom. Perhaps as a people, we are not morally strong enough to be free. If that is the case, then we shall certainly lose our freedom, and it will not matter much what “ism” supplants Americanism. But this will not prove that our free way of life was not the best way. It will only prove that we were not worthy of it. []

—Betty Knowles Hunt, 1951