As intriguing as its title, well known Christian leader and thinker Os Guinness’ latest book A Free People’s Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future is a fascinating read. As an Irishman living in America, Guinness brings an outsider’s view of our democracy with a Christian viewpoint. He expresses optimism that the United States will not follow the path of every world superpower that has gone before.
Unfettered freedom could prove to be the Achilles’ heel of the modern world, dissipating into license, triviality, corruption and a grand undermining of all authority….
For at the heart of freedom lies a grand paradox: the greatest enemy of freedom is freedom.
Guinness makes the case that the Founding Fathers thought a Golden Triangle was necessary for the country to survive. A representation of that triangle follows:
It is interesting that the Fathers were not particular about the faith (as individuals, their beliefs were all over the place), nor is the type of virtue particularly important. What is important is that all three exist and exist strongly.
As stated previously, Guinness is optimistic. But he does write the following:
We are rapidly reaching the point in Western consumer societies where people confuse freedom with choice, as they are dazzled daily by an ever-expanding array of external choices in consumer goods and lifestyle options. But the pursuit of freedom has led to a surfeit of choices and a scarcity of meaning and value—a point at which choice itself, rather than the content of any choice, has become the heart of freedom. The result is that modern people value choice rather than good choice.
I wish I was as optimistic. As if we did not have enough to worry about.