Liberty does not happen by accident. While we have an inalienable right to liberty, history demonstrates securing it – and then holding on to it – are different matters entirely.

It would be nice to think “liberty” is the norm and “tyranny” is the exception. It would be nice, but it would not be true.

In the late 1940s, a businessman named Henning Prentis noticed a pattern in history. it is a pattern that leads from bondage to liberty and back to bondage.

The so-called “Prentis Cycle” was developed in a series of speeches and essays. It goes like this:

“From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to courage; from courage to freedom; from freedom to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency ; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to fear; from fear to dependency; and from dependency back to bondage once more.”

We like freedom and abundance, but in our selfishness and complacency we reject faith. We convince ourselves we have nothing to fear from the tyrant we shackle ourselves under the promise of his protection. Anyone courageous enough to speak out is mocked and attacked.

Where are we today? Still in “abundance”? Shifted to “selfishness”? Moving past “fear”?

If we are to reclaim and retain liberty, we must renew our faith and shore up our courage. We must shake our friends out of their complacency and apathy.

Liberty can only grow in the soil of self-governance tended to daily by zealous patriots.

It isn’t someone else’s job. It is my job, and your job. It is a job for which we must actively train up our children. The cause liberty never ends.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Check out his podcast, Reflections on Life and Liberty.