Chesterton, Franklin, and the Pernicious American Obsession with Safety

“To sweat a slave to a race of slaves,/ To drink up infamy? /No, brothers, by your leave, I think/ Death is a better ale to drink, /And by all the stars of Christ that sink, /The Danes shall drink with me… By this sign you shall know them [the new barbarians],/ The breaking of the sword, /And man no more a free knight, /That loves or hates his lord.” —GK Chesterton, Ballad of the White Horse

At one time, Americans prized freedom above everything—they were willing to fight and suffer and even die for it. Yet somehow, since WWII, Americans have gradually lost that courage, to the point where the overwhelming majority—including both conservatives and leftists—prize “safety” over everything.

Founding Father Ben Franklin brilliantly observed, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” We once knew that prioritizing safety would lead inevitably to a loss of freedom, to an increase in tyranny. Now we don’t seem to care if our privacy is invaded, our dreams smashed, and our rights violated if we can have convenience and “safety” (though this is especially true, I think, of boomers and young people).

At what point do we realize that the pursuit of safety leads to the loss of both liberty and safety?

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Posted by CatSalgado32

Catherine Salgado is a columnist for The Rogue Review, a Writer for MRC Free Speech America, and writes her own Substack, Pro Deo et Libertate. She received the Andrew Breitbart MVP award for August 2021 from The Rogue Review for her journalism.

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