As we leave 2017

One lesson all of us should learn ahead of this Christmas given everything that’s happened politically in 2017 and also 2016: RIGHTS limit how the government interacts with the People, PRINCIPLES limit how you interact with everyone else. That is why I’ve spent much of the last several years continually defending PRINCIPLES over rights.

Without the underlying principles of free speech and the presumption of innocence, for example, there is no foundation for the RIGHTS derived from those principles. Yet more and more I see those principles continually violated by people who claim to stand up for the rights derived from those principles.

Lay judgment against others only by the same measure you expect judgment to be laid on you. Treat others how you want to be treated. Respect must always be earned by how you treat others.

Do not be so quick to deduce motive or malice from someone’s actions. Presume someone is innocent when that person is accused of something, regardless of the accusation, regardless of the accuser, and regardless of who is being accused.

I’m certainly not perfect on these principles, but I at least try. Unlike a lot of others in the United States and the world.

At the same time, learn to be grateful for what you have, not envious of what others have. Do not seek to take what you have not earned. And above all, no one can legitimately do for you or someone else that which you cannot yourself morally or legally do.