Signs of the Times

Presbyterian Life

James W. Hoffman, Associate Editor
Presbyterian Life magazine in The Link, a Protestant magazine for Armed Forces personnel Washington, District of Columbia

Liberty is not the absence of compulsion or restraint, as anyone who gave a second thought to the matter would realize. If everyone were free in this sense, no one would be safe. The pursuit of happiness may be an inalienable right, but we must limit those whose happiness consists in destroying other people's property. There are many such limitations which civilized people place on themselves and others.

Liberty consists of our power to choose which restraints and compulsions we will accept and live by....If too many of us make too many foolish, dishonest, or selfish choices, democracy will decline, giving place to a regime that will hold society together by force and terror. Even this would be only a stopgap move. If our knowledge of history is any guide to the future, a people that becomes corrupt and irresponsible is doomed to sink to a subordinate place, if not to disappear entirely from the world scene.

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October 2, 1965

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