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July 4th 2012

In 2011 we reflected on the desire of ancient Athenians to seek security, rather than accept the responsibilities of freedom. As a result, Athens ceased to be free. Greece, today, is a modern day example of what happens when a society creates a culture of dependency. The Greek people have come to feel they are entitled to services, income and benefits that the country cannot afford. Living beyond their means, they have created an unsustainable economic model, which has resulted in fear and uncertainty in markets around the world.

How can such a small country (population estimate 11 million) have such a strong economic impact globally? At least in part, it is due to the fact that Greece represents one of the most extreme examples of problems confronting many nations that are living beyond their means. There is a fear that if Greece is unable to solve her problems, there will be other countries soon to follow the same path.

The lessons of ancient and modern Greece seem to be clear. Freedom requires the acceptance of individual responsibility. Dependency kills initiative, produces complacency, and destroys the possibility of freedom. When government removes the need for sacrifice, eliminates risks, and protects us from the consequences of our own actions, the result is an entitlement mentality that eventually destroys an individual’s ability to accept, or make the changes that are required in a changing world. In effect, the individual becomes a slave to the dependency/entitlement condition.

Franklin was asked following the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia what type of government had been established. Was it a monarchy or a republic? His response, “A republic if you can keep it” is a challenge to all future generations. On this July 4th, it is our job to keep the republic. May we accept that life is a journey in stewardship, that we have been richly blessed, and that it is our responsibility to preserve opportunity and freedom for all. To do otherwise would betray the sacrifice of all the generations that came before.

In appreciation of your friendship,

Bradford L. Sims


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