I posted the following thoughts today (6/8/13), regarding the balancing of Americans’ freedom/lberty with their safety/security, on several blogs of the Atlant Journal-Constitution
“In today’s world, informed Americans must decide how much freedom/liberty they are willing to give up for their safety/security. It is a balancing act. We need to have Congressional hearings, informing citizens in great detail (without releasing classified information) as to why this type of surveillance is necessary today.
President Obama says that we need this data for our security in fighting those who would harm us. I trust President Obama. I do not think that malice has been intended against Americans, and I believe this president has the far-reaching vision to well understand what this surveillance will mean to Americans in the future, after he no longer is president, in terms of Americans’ long-ranged civil liberties balanced appropriately against their safety.
As a result, I am willing to wait until I become more informed, which may be weeks in coming, before I make a decision regarding how much surveillance of American citizens will be necessary to secure their ‘life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness,’ into the coming decades and centuries, as the world continues to change.
The wisdom and insight of our Founding Fathers, especially that of Thomas Jefferson, allowed for Americans to change the nature of their government, as the times themselves changed. However, Americans must be wary of giving up too many of their civil liberties for their safety without long-ranged safeguards in place which will secure that their government, itself, cannot become too intrusive into their daily lives in the off-chance that malice could be used, in the future, by those of power in government against some of the American people. America’s leaders must act, in this matter, only to protect the people’s ‘lives,’ sustain their ‘liberty’ against those outside forces, such as terrorists, who would take their liberties from them, and create an environment in which Americans are able to ‘pursue their personal happiness,’ free from terrorists’ attacks against them.
We must think in terms not only of the present, but also of the future, as we choose to make any adjustments necessary to balance our freedom with our security in today’s world, and we must ensure that safeguards are set in place, as we do so, which will insure that the government, itself, cannot overstep its place while it works for its citizens best interests, well into the future.”
From Dr. Saul K. Padover’s book, published in 1942, entitled, “Jefferson,” page 379:
Words of Thomas Jefferson:
“Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. . . .I know. . . that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. . . .As. . . new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors. . . .Each generation. . . has. . .a right to choose for itself the form of government it believes most promotive of its own happiness. . . .a solemn opportunity of doing this every nineteen or twenty years should be provided by the constitution.”
Narrative from Padover’s book:
“His (Jefferson’s) conclusion in the matter of laws and institutions was that they were perpetually subject to change for the benefit of humanity. ‘Nothing then,’ he told Major John Cartwright in 1824, ‘is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man.’ “
(Note: The above information from Padover’s book was footnoted to reference, ‘Notices, Letters, etc. Respecting the Library Manuscripts of Thomas Jefferson,’ typescript, Library of Congress, 1898, vol. 7, page 359.)