The summer is drawing to a close, and I regret that I will shortly finish my internship at the Mackinac Center. This internship has been a fantastic opportunity for me to sharpen my skills while working to promote free markets, and I consider it a great privilege to be considered a member of the Mackinac Center team.
At the end of any project, it is good to look back and consider the significance of the work that has been done. At the end of the day, why is liberty important? Why do we (both myself personally, and the Mackinac Center collectively) spend our time and resources promoting this idea?
The answer lies in the dignity of the human person. The great “isms” and ideologies of our day, such as communism, fascism and utilitarianism, exalt an economic or political system to the detriment of each individual human being. Under the reign of an ideology, people cease to be valuable in their own right, and are only respected insofar as they work towards or promote the state’s ruling “ism.” Yearning for the progress of the state tramples over individual human lives. Demagogues and dictators who strive to create a new social order out of whole cloth have never made it to Utopia, though they have made a lot of bodies while trying.
In order to achieve either stable economic prosperity or general personal happiness, any state must recognize the fundamental dignity of each of its citizens. This does not mean giving the citizenry all of the hand-outs which they might request: after all, isn’t it a greater sign of respect when an individual is expected to provide for his own needs? Even “soft” or democratic socialism, unaccompanied by iron-fisted police measures, denies to every man under its rule the basic dignity of providing for himself, to the extent that he can.
And so, I am encouraged by the hope that my work at the Mackinac Center has contributed, in some small way, to the promotion of human dignity and liberty in my own time and place. As Edmund Burke said, a nation is a “community of souls,” not robots, slaves or cogs in a machine, but men and women carefully formed in the image of God and valuable on that account alone. Americans both inside and outside of government must cling to this principle if the nation is to remain both free and strong.
I will miss the Mackinac Center, but trust that I will find many more opportunities to advocate for liberty wherever my future paths take me. As J. R. R. Tolkien said, “The Road goes ever on and on…”