Lynda Linke logoI recently adopted a dog, a young beagle mix, who I named Liberty. Why did I choose that name? Because liberty is a word and a concept that I have only recently come to understand and I wanted to name her in honor of something I hold dear. I also wanted to be constantly reminded of the true meaning of the word. I always thought liberty and freedom had the same meaning but I have learned that freedom is liberty only when personal responsibility and morality are added; in fact, freedom alone can be quite destructive.

For my entire adult life – up until just two years ago – I was woefully ignorant about politics, current events, and even American history. I started my journey of self-education by reading the Constitution (for the first time since 8th grade Civics class) and went on to read biographies of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. Next I’ll be reading “1776” by historian David McCullough. I began paying attention to the news and listening to and reading political/current events analysts and I gained a whole new appreciation for the freedoms we all take for granted in this country.

I used to think of myself as “liberal” but that word, as it is currently used, is no longer one with which I can identify. I have discovered that many of my beliefs align with Libertarianism, which is actually very close to the definition of classical liberalism. I try very hard to be true to myself and still respect the right of others to have a different opinion – sometimes I just have to agree to disagree. I have a “live and let live” attitude about most things. The title of Matt Kibbe’s new book “Don’t Hurt People and Don’t Take Their Stuff” is actually the very simple and basic underlying philosophy of Libertarianism. Here are his “Rules for Liberty”:

1. don’t hurt people
2. don’t take people’s stuff
3. take responsibility
4. work for it
5. mind your own business
6. fight the power

Whether you call yourself liberal, conservative, libertarian, or a combination of all these things, I’m sure you can recognize the common sense behind these rules but he hasn’t invented anything new – in much simpler terms this is the same thing our Constitution tells us. Too bad so many of our politicians in both parties, who all take an oath to uphold the Constitution, have drifted so far from its guiding principles, especially in the last 20-30 years.

Last week I went to a five-hour Constitutional workshop titled “The Roots of Liberty” presented by KrisAnne Hall, attorney, disabled veteran, Russian linguist, and patriot. Trust me, anyone or anything that can hold my interest for five hours has to be pretty good! She presented the 700+ year history that gave us our founding documents and drew parallels between the relevance of those documents and today’s headlines. She calls it “connecting the dots”. She defined liberty as freedom plus morality and that is when a light went on for me.

Our republic was created by men who believed in God and were students of history but, you don’t have to believe in God to recognize that the morality inherent in their religious beliefs is the underpinning of our founding documents and our foundational laws. The founders believed that our rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are natural rights given to us by God, not by government (always remember that whatever the government gives you it can also take away), and the founding documents were created to protect them. Freedom is powerful – it requires morality and personal responsibility to be of real value. That is true liberty.





4I haven’t been writing much this year – except in my journal – only one post so far but, for those who have been following this blog I have to share some sad news. On April 8th I had to make the very painful decision to have my sweet Stella, mascot of this blog, put to sleep.

I adopted Stella when she was a senior – at least 8 years old, probably older – and we only had 4 1/2 years together but she was very special to me. I’ve known lots of dogs in my life but Stella was definitely the sweetest and best behaved. She actually looked like she was smiling! She had many health problems and I’m sure the care she received gave her a couple of extra years but it wasn’t just extra time – she also had a great life with me. She loved being in the car and easily adapted to new environments so she went on many vacations with me – several trips to the West coast of Florida, three trips to the North Carolina mountains, and one trip to the North Georgia mountains. She was one of the first members of the Flagler Humane Society Ambassador Dog Team and served in the PAWS to Read and Bite-Free programs for 3 1/2 years. She accompanied me when I presented SELF seminars at Christmas Come True, often serving as an “ice breaker” for people who were feeling nervous about being there. She went to the beach many times and enjoyed sitting on a bench with me at Waterfront Park just watching the world go by.

I’ve written before that I believe my Dad’s spirit brought Stella into my life at a time when I needed a friend and now I feel that Stella led me to adopting my new friend, Liberty. Many times over the last few years I considered adopting another dog and often went on rescue websites to browse but always pulled back because Stella’s medications cost $300 per month and I feared that I might end up with another dog with health problems. I also never saw a dog I was particularly drawn to. A little over a week ago I decided that I would check the websites and, if I found a dog I liked, I’d go and meet her and, if I got a good vibe, I’d adopt her. I thought it might give Stella a “second wind” to have some youthful energy around her. I checked two websites I normally went to and they didn’t have anything that attracted me so I went to a third site that somehow led me to Rescued Hearts, a rescue I had not heard of before. They only had 11 dogs that met my criteria and in that group of photos I saw a young female who reminded me of Stella. She also was described as a beagle mix with a sweet nature. I knew I had to go meet her and, when I did, I had a really good feeling about her so I adopted her. She was scheduled to be spayed that week so I couldn’t take her home right away.

Meanwhile, Stella started getting sick that weekend but, she had “48 hour” bugs several times in the past so I thought she would get over it. When I could see that she wasn’t getting better I took her to the vet. Results of blood work showed that both kidneys were failing, her white blood cell count was very high, and the beginning of a liver problem. I knew what I would have to do and I dreaded it. The way things turned out, Stella didn’t get to meet Liberty but it seems that I have been blessed with another sweet dog and I have to thank Stella for leading me to her. Liberty has only been with me for 3 days but she is settling in very nicely and the good feeling I had about her was absolutely right! We have walked each day – I’m teaching her how to walk on a leash (we’ll also be going to a basic training class) – and she greets people and other dogs much the way Stella did, with a sweet friendliness. I am amazed at how lucky I have been to find another dog who is so good-natured, likes to be in the car, doesn’t bark, and, although still quite young, is house broken and basically well-mannered. Every time I look at her I am reminded of Stella and I’m grateful for that special friendship and for the new friend she led me to.

Good girl, Stella.

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