OPINION – For too many Americans, the thought of trying to move the cause of liberty appears to be a quixotic waste of time.
The government is too powerful and predatory; the masses too blinded by groupthink and propaganda, and the burden of supporting freedom is quickly becoming too heavy. So why waste our time championing liberty when it counts for nothing to the mainstream?
The answer is simple: because liberty still matters even more than life itself and can only be perpetuated by a people who value it enough to actively support it.
A powerful example of how one might effectively labor in the cause of liberty can be seen in the life of Stephen Pratt.
Early in his life, Pratt served as a college teacher for several years. He held bachelor’s and master’s degrees from a leading university and had pursued further graduate studies at another leading university. By most people’s standards he would be considered well educated.
But, at the request of a neighbor, Pratt attended a lecture series on American heritage and the Constitution. It was during this time that he came to realize that there were some serious gaps in his education. In his own words: “I realize now that like most other Americans I was completely, totally, functionally illiterate when it came to a working knowledge of the principles and practices of freedom.”
Unlike most other Americans, Pratt chose to do something about it. He followed the sage advice of his newfound mentor to “do your homework” and he began a lifelong quest of study and teaching.
His studies led him to the pages of the classics of history and philosophy and he was part of the team that wrote the book “The 5000 Year Leap.” It was during his research on the subject of natural law that Pratt became a firm believer in the power of intensive research and using original sources. This Heuristic approach to learning, in which the student is trained to find things out for himself, gave him real scholarly depth and breadth on the subject of liberty.
Unlike many professors and lecturers who seek to build a cult of personality to spread their message, Pratt insisted that his students do more than simply take his word for what he taught. He gave them homework assignments and challenged them to read the original sources for themselves before coming to their own conclusions.
This is important in any subject, but especially when studying the principles of liberty. Any serious student of liberty will attest that much of what the American public learns in school about things like sovereignty, original intent, and the proper role of government is tainted by collectivist philosophy. No worthy cause has ever prospered with an unwillingness to face facts — even the unpleasant facts. This is also true of the cause of liberty.
To Pratt’s credit, his presentations faced the difficult facts squarely, yet were delivered with cheerfulness, humility, and a clear love of God and country. This was especially true of his “Know Your Liberty” seminars taught throughout the U.S. His goals were threefold:
• Confront our history by careful study. Learn the facts about who we are and where we came from as a people.
• Apply critical thinking in an effort to discern the disinformation, that which is false and misleading.
• Share the truth, even if it is painful. Wake the town and tell the people. Be kind, be gentle with love unfeigned.
For 35 years or more Pratt has devoted his life to sharing the message of liberty with all who would hear. He did not charge for his presentations, as he believed that the message of liberty should not be taught for profit.
At each of his seminars there was a large table of books, primarily the original sources he was citing. Pratt did not charge for these books, he only asked for donations to cover the cost of replacing the books. If a person could not afford the donation, he asked them to take the book anyway and study it.
Pratt has taken seriously the charge given by George Washington, who said: “A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?”
America desperately needs more lovers of liberty like Stephen Pratt.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.