Henry Olsen about liberty, responsibility, and opportunity

So, the first value that we have to be committed to is liberty. Every person has their own way of living their lives. Every person has their distinct value that they can offer to each other to free association and free exchange. If we can’t be committed to this, then we are ultimately talking about a situation when we can’t live together as equals. And we can’t live together in a free and tolerant society.

The other thing though that’s a core layer, that is, we have the responsibility, is that as every person is a free and equal individual. We have to recognize that every person’s dignity sometimes needs the protection of law. That every person’s opportunity to live the life of their own choosing sometimes needs help and support from their neighbors. Obviously that’s best down to a consensual measure, but that’s also something that we learn by hard experience needs to be done in some ways collectively through the operation of us working together through democratically elected governments. So, liberty and responsibility ultimately go hand in hand in any market of democratic society.

And the third is opportunity. Is that it’s an opportunity not just to make but to be. An opportunity to make is what people often think of as an opportunity to make money and an opportunity to make a business, an opportunity to make a living. But as important is an opportunity to be, is that people have the opportunity to be who they want to be. To be the person who lives the life of their own self choosing.

And that’s ultimately the essence of a civilized society, because after all the civilized society is ultimately about happiness of each and every individual who live in it. And that means the opportunity to be who you want to be: whether it’s to be the highest CEO of a corporation or whether it’s to be somebody who just enjoys fishing for a living with their friends and their family. The society that respects and enables that is a society that is truly just, truly liberal, and truly democratic.  

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