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One constant throughout the march of human history has been the fight of individuals to be free. This struggle has taken many forms; and of course has different expressions originating from the worldviews of those seeking to be free. For me, the heart of individual freedom is the freedom to. The concepts are simple: the freedom to worship as I please, without fear of reprisals; the freedom to associate with whom I chose, for the reasons I desire, without having to render accounts; the freedom to participate in the global marketplace, with the security that my earnings are guaranteed by law and are not subject so seizure at the whim of another; the freedom to my personal privacy, not because I have something to hide, as the autocrats of the world try to explain, but instead because personal privacy is the primary building block of a society conformed of individuals; and, finally, the freedom to have a government whose legitimacy is derived from my consent. These are the freedoms which the great men, those founders and framers of old, identified as the mechanisms to guarantee a government for the people and by the people. And they are enshrined in our most important codex – the United States Constitution – as the binding social contract between the people and their freely elected representatives. This Constitution establishes the limits of our government, not of our peoples. And this Constitution serves to protect the individuals from the state, and the states from an oppressive and predatory federal government; setting in place the safeguards upon which the citizens of this great country depend. These are the very same freedoms that, on the streets of Homs and at the ballot box in Venezuela, are being wrested from their illegitimate rulers – powerful men who see themselves as ordained to wield arbitrary power – and returned at last to the people. For our part, those who are the inheritors of these important freedoms have a sacred, two-fold duty. To protect these freedoms at home, for tyranny is only ever a generation away; and to fight for the freedoms of others abroad, for the inheritance of human freedom knows no nationality or race but is the birthright of every living person.
Before joining the George W. Bush Institute, Joel Hirst was a recipient of the prestigious International Affairs Fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he researched the Cuba/Venezuela-sponsored Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas. He worked for six years with USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives in Uganda, focusing on post-conflict transition in Lord’s Resistance Army–affected areas. In Venezuela, he worked for four years on democracy promotion, elections, civil society, and human rights. Prior to this, Hirst worked as a humanitarian relief worker with World Vision in countries such as Pakistan, Venezuela, Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, Honduras, and Nicaragua. He writes and appears frequently in the media.
To find out more about Joel, you can also visit his personal website.Full Bio