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Political pundit Ben Shapiro defends individual freedom and responsibility

Ben Shapiro, a popular conservative media personality, delivered a pointed message on the importance of individual freedom in preserving a just and virtuous society during Liberty University’s Convocation on Wednesday.

The editor-in-chief and founder of The Daily Wire, Shapiro is also a columnist, best-selling author, radio talk show host, and lawyer. At age 17, Shapiro became the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in the U.S. when he was hired by Creators Syndicate.

In introducing Shapiro, Liberty Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development David Nasser noted the political commentator has long been requested by Liberty students, and his visit was made possible thanks to Young Americans for Freedom.

“I have long believed that the future of our nation is inextricably intertwined with the future of the Judeo-Christian value system,” Shapiro began. “I know of very few people in the United States that are more valuable to that system than right here at Liberty University. I am blown away by you guys.”

Shapiro told the crowd that American rights were a “philosophical evolution” of the Judeo-Christian tradition and that individual freedom is important for people to be productive and motivated to better themselves.

“Judeo-Christian philosophy expects us to struggle, to strive,” Shapiro said. “Judeo-Christian philosophy demands that we do our best and that we act virtuously on the individual level so that we can feel secure without invading each other’s rights. The Judeo-Christian tradition says that with freedom comes responsibility.”

Freedom is under attack from within American borders, Shapiro argued, through the spreading idea that the government should have more power in allocating resources and dictating virtue.

“Collectivist philosophy, however, thinks differently — they expect us to give our individual striving up,” he said. “All we have to do is trade our individual responsibility for the comfort of collective power. … We can avoid that (individual) struggle by handing over all power to a nanny state.”

This collectivism spreads the dangerous idea that freedom is to blame for immorality, rather than people, Shapiro argued.

“As a society, we have taught individual human beings in the United States and around the world they are not responsible for their actions,” Shapiro said. “Human beings have always provided company when pursuing evil without being taught an individual system of virtue where you are responsible for the actions you take.”

Shapiro, who is a pro-life advocate, said shirking personal responsibility leads collectivists to “routinely dismiss the value of human life.”

Shapiro also said that the ideological struggle has led to a division among people, once united in their freedom though they held individual convictions.

“We used to see each other as brothers and sisters, as friends and family,” he said. “We were not enemies; we were a community forged in fire, tethered together by the same values stretching back to the Garden of Eden. …  Somewhere along the way we came to believe that we stood above the tradition before us, that we were better than the philosophical system of the founders.”

Shapiro’s speech drew a standing ovation from students.

In closing, Nasser’s brother, Benjamin Nasser, who has Down syndrome, echoed Shapiro’s call for protecting the unborn. He thanked God for creating him the way he is and prayed for revival and for an end to abortion.

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