Yesterday, I watched this Hillsdale College lecture on “Progressivism.” At the end of the lecture, Dr. Paul Moreno talked about “entitlement” and the Progressives’ idea that all men have the right to a job, a house, medical care, recreation, retirement, education. This is a view of the “right to have” whereas the Founders viewed rights as the “right to do.” The Founders believed all men have the right to work, the right to property, the right to health, the right to gain knowledge, the right to pursue happiness. The Founders enacted laws to secure these rights, these opportunities, to all men. The Progressives enacted laws to provide these rights, these objects, to all men. In the Founding era, men had to do their part, do their duty, expend their efforts to build and receive the objects of their rights—a business, a home, learning and wisdom, good health, and recreation. Much was required on their part to achieve success. In the Progressive era and beyond, too many men feel that these rights should be received or provided with little effort or struggle on their part. And in the end, they are often dissatisfied with the quality or amount of what they have received. Much is still required to survive and thrive in our day. The law of the harvest is an eternal law: “whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap” (D&C 6:33).
For example, when we put forth our efforts to study and gain an education by diligently reading, writing, attending lectures, researching and completing projects we learn and gain knowledge that is deep and lasting. When we simply go to school every day with the expectation that we will receive an education, we often just sit there waiting for knowledge to be infused into us much like blood is infused in a person with anemia. Sadly, this doesn’t happen and our minds are still low on learning and understanding because we haven’t done our part to acquire and expand our knowledge. We have simply wanted the results of knowledge without doing our part to build and nurture our minds by studying and discussing and writing from the best books that teach of the history and science and the experiences of great men and women. Likewise, we want the results of a great job without putting in the thought, time, and money to invest in creating a great idea, building a product or service, and marketing and selling it to others. Instead many of us expect to just have a job, go to work, and receive a paycheck. The more we do, the more we give and sacrifice, the greater will be our reward. And that reward as viewed by the Founders was not always an object. Rather it was an inner reward of wisdom, happiness, and peace because of their contentment in having done something good.