[Rector]

Peace, Liberty and Safety

 

At the first Continental Congress in the United States of America, 1774, one of the keynote ideas that led to the Declaration of Independence in 1776 was the statement, "we ask but for peace, liberty and safety."

It's not easy to define the function of government when it comes to human rights. Take for example, Australia. The Australian constitution does not define the rights of the people as do the 5th and 14th amendments to United States Constitution. The Australian constitution rests on vague conventions and practices, sometimes reflecting Biblical law, Common law and acts of Parliament of both Australia and England, and somewhere in all this rests the rights of citizens. The only rights approaching a Bill of Rights in the Australian Constitution are s51, requiring compensation for the compulsory acquisition of property, and s116, requiring government neutrality on matters of religion. How nice it would be if law-makers were bound to comply with a constitutional requirement for peace, liberty and safety of the people.

These three qualities have a very nice balance. Peace and safety are both wonderful qualities for a full and happy life, but of themselves can become oppressive. For the sake of public peace and safety, the individual can end up enslaved. So, to counter the tendency toward national socialism or communism, there stands the principle of liberty, freedom. Thus, peace and safety are held in balance by liberty.

The tendency in Western societies today is toward peace and safety and away from liberty. Consider how Western governments are responding to the threat of terrorism. Observe the difficulty of maintaining the balance. Even when we sacrifice freedom, both under the law and bureaucratic control, we find that peace and safety are not the inevitable consequence.

Liberty is the linchpin. I am reminded that although Jesus came to give us peace and security, he came also to give us freedom. He was indeed sent to "bind up the broken-hearted", but also to "proclaim liberty to the captives", Isaiah 61:1. He came to proclaim the coming day of the "glorious liberty of the children of God", Romans 8:21. So I say, "speed on liberty", if not here, then certainly in the age to come.