Clarence Thomas gave a commencement speech this year to the graduating class at Hillsdale University. Clarence was the second African American to be elected as a Supreme Court Judge and has led an exemplary life. A brief clip from his message is below:
"Today there is much more of a focus on our rights and what we are owed, and much less on our obligations and duties. My grandfather often reminded me that if we didn't work, we didn't eat. And if we didn't plant, we couldn't harvest. There is always a relationship between responsibilities and benefits.
If you continue to run up charges on your credit card, eventually you hit your limit. If you continue to make withdrawals from your savings account, eventually you deplete all of your funds. Likewise, if we continue to consume the benefits of a free society without replenishing or nourishing that society; we will eventually deplete that as well. If we are content letting others do the work of replenishing and defending liberty while we consume the benefits, we will someday run out of other people's willingness to sacrifice. Or even out of courageous people willing to make the sacrifice.
Hillsdale college is like a shining city on a hill. The very existing of Hillsdale, like America, was founded on the ideals that liberty is an antecedent of government, not a benefit from government. I implore you to take a minutes and thank those people that have allowed you to come this far; your parents, teachers and pastors. For these are the people who have shown you how to sacrifice for those you love, even when it is not always appreciated. As you go through life, try to be a person who's actions teach others how to be better people and better citizens."
We live in a society today where many people are focused on what the government can do for them. I encourage you to use Clarence Thomas's message as a reminder that freedom is not free, and liberty is something that we are currently able to enjoy because of all those who made sacrifices before us. Those before us made more deposits into the bank account of our future than they withdrew. At the end of the constitutional convention in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was asked what they had accomplished. He replied, "A republic ... If you can keep it."