Freedom, individual freedom, is a gift from God. We all get it at the moment of conception when He breathes life into us. Nobody, no tyrant, no government, no individual, can ever take this gift away from us, no matter how hard they try. No human hand can undo a gift from God. But, like all gifts, freedom cannot be thrust upon us. We must make the conscious choice to accept it. And we must accept it fully and without reservations, not like that obviously regifted fondue set we got for our wedding anniversary.

Like most precious gifts, freedom comes with a set of obligations and commitments. Just like that puppy you may have received on your sixteenth birthday, freedom requires sacrifice. Freedom demands of us that we act as responsible adults, that we do our best to discharge our obligations as someone’s children, siblings, spouses, and friends. It demands that we live lives that are free of substance abuse, of unjustified violence, and of deceit. In short, it demands that we abide by His rules.

Should we fall short of trying our level best to discharge these obligations, the precious gift of freedom stands no better chance of survival than a puppy that, through our own negligence, had been left without food and water to sustain it.

Some societies make discharging the obligations of freedom easier than others. These societies have well-constituted limited government, one that is, to quote President Lincoln “of the People and by the People”. These societies are what we would call “high trust societies”, societies in which we have no reason to doubt what we are being told and no reason to lock our doors at night. In these societies, discharging the obligations of freedom is easy. All it takes, really, is being decent human beings, keeping our basest instincts in check, and paying our taxes. A century ago, America was such a society. Today, it no longer is.

When power resides with unelected “elites” who have very different agendas than that of supporting the freedom of the “masses”, when crime against person and property is both rampant and unpunished, when human beings are not treated as equals, but rather ranked on a constantly evolving “intersectionality scale”, when the most blatant and obvious of lies are presented as the most sacred truths, when we are commanded to pay obeisance to these lies under penalty of loss of livelihood, public ridicule and even imprisonment, choosing to be free is no longer the default choice.

When the Founding Fathers embarked on the perilous path of seeking independence from the British Empire, when they birthed the Constitution, they wanted to make choosing freedom easy to the point of automatic for those Americans who were not criminally inclined.

They succeeded, for a while, but now their endeavor is crumbling under the weight of over a century of crony capitalism, unbridled greed, godlessness, and the power lust of “progressive” elites. This means that Americans, just like their counterparts in countries like Russia, China, Canada, and Western Europe, must work much harder at remaining free.

Since no human hand can take away what is divinely ordained, even the most repressive societies cannot take away the freedom of their subjects. But they can, and they do, make the choice to remain free a very difficult one indeed. They count on us not being strong enough to make that choice, to sell out, to acquiesce, to prefer the lives of slaves, to become “units of labor”. Alas, they count right. Most of us do just that.

Choices seem difficult, impossible even, when we are left guideless, bereft of teachers that can point us in the right direction. This is why the oppressors first subvert or eliminate precisely the people to whom we look for guidance: clergymen, teachers, and parents. So what, concretely, must we do if we are to remain free in a society that is hell-bent on denying us our freedom? There are TEN SIMPLE STEPS that we can take, though simple rarely means easy.

1 / Stop believing anything you hear. People, like my late parents, who live in totalitarian regimes do not believe a word they hear from any source unless there is irrefutable evidence that it is indeed the truth. This step is absolutely critical. Work on yourself to adopt the posture of believing, by default and as a matter of course that everything you hear from anyone outside of a close circle of family and friends whom you personally know is a lie. And by lie I don’t mean an inaccuracy, an omission, a partial truth. No, I mean a boldfaced malicious lie specifically designed to rob you of your freedom, to make you a slave. This posture applies to anyone, including myself. Assume that I am lying to you, then work from there. Perhaps, upon further reflection, things that you hear from this or that source appear to be true. Then and only then, cautiously, selectively, on a case by case basis, you may accept them as such. Freedom is rejecting propaganda from all sources.

2 / Accept that freedom does not imply control. In fact, it implies the opposite. You are not in control. You do not determine any outcomes. Things, good and bad, will happen whether you wish them to or not. You can be responsible only for your own actions and you must focus your energies on making sure that these actions are righteous ones. Be kind to those who love you. Be ruthless to those who wish to harm you and your loved ones. The rest is not up to you. Let go of your 401(k) and of any notions that things will be fine or that things will be horrible. You don’t know what will be. Your savings will be there or they won’t. Social Security will be bankrupt when you retire or it will be just fine. You have no way of affecting any of these outcomes. While voting is important, do not expect your vote to make the slightest real difference. Freedom is accepting that you are not in charge.

3 / Make sure that you are skilled. Make a list of all your skills. Can you make a fire? Change a tire? Bake bread? Write code? Drive an eighteen wheeler? Your list should have two columns: skills that require certification and those that do not. You cannot drive eighteen wheelers or fly airplanes without a piece of paper that says so. Put those skills on the certified side of the ledger. You may be surprised that even if you have a good job at which you are skilled, you have nothing to put on the certified side of the list. Go out and get something. Spend five grand to get a truck operator license, for example. The competition is much thinner on that side than it is on the other. When times are bad, certified skills will be in short supply and they will help you feed yourself and your loved ones and what says freedom more than that? Freedom is having as many skills as possible.

4 / Join a community. Humans are not pandas. We are not solitary creatures. Our agency, our freedom, come from being part of stable and thriving communities. Find one that suits you and join it. And no, I do not mean online. Who knows what is on the other side of that display? Find a real-life community of real people. A church, a hunting club, bird watchers, cigar aficionados, whatever. Communities expand the group of people we care for and who care for us in return and that is freedom.

5 / Learn how to defend yourself. There can be no freedom for the defenseless. Take a self-defence class. For guys, I recommend old-fashioned boxing. Learn how to throw a punch or two. Learn how to take one as well without freaking out. For ladies, krav maga would be my recommendation. In any case, avoid what I call the “sensei” schools. Your assailant will not be taking any bows before he kicks your behind, you can take my word on that.

6 / Arm yourself. Be aware of what is legal in your jurisdiction and arm yourself with the full arsenal of firearms, edged weapons, and other weapons such as chemical sprays and Tasers that you can legally own and carry. Become proficient in the use of these weapons through training and keep up that proficiency. Using your bare hands is always a last resort and if you must do that, you are already in dire straits. Freedom is the use of overwhelming force in the defense of yourself and of your loved ones.

7 / Learn how to be deceitful and complicitous towards those who are deceitful and complicitous towards you. Most of us are not cut out to be martyrs and that is a good thing. If all of us burned at the stake for being publicly true to our principles, who would feed our children? Perhaps your employer asks you to put your “preferred pronoun” in your email signature line. Perhaps you are required to acknowledge that the climate hoax is as real as a peanut butter sandwich or else your university will kick you out. The solution is simple: say whatever you need to say to keep your job, your place in your school, your board membership. Say it with the fullest mental reservation possible, but say it nonetheless. Pretend, lie, deceive. If there are others like you in your workplace or school, and there are, be complicitous with them in your deception. There is a Hebrew saying to the effect of a thief being hardly in a place to complain when his own stuff is stolen. The elites have made lying and deception their stock in trade. They richly deserve to be paid in kind. Build a wall around the inner sanctum of your mind; act differently with those whom you trust absolutely and everyone else. You owe no one a straight answer, certainly not those who wish you harm.

8 / Teach your children to lie. Before my first day in first grade in the early seventies USSR, my parents sat me down and had me swear that I would never repeat in school a word of what I had heard at home. Not in front of the teachers and not in front of other kids, not even those whom I would befriend. My parents had no love for the communist party and within the four walls of our small apartment they were not shy about saying so. Had I opened my mouth, they would have been in real danger. Snitching is the stock in trade of all oppressive societies and the US is no different. Do you talk about there being only two genders around the kitchen table? Do you visibly cringe at being force-fed homosexual propaganda when watching TV? Great! Now teach your kids to never, ever, say a word about this in school, or in the playground. Your well- being, your job, your livelihood, may well depend on it.

9 / Protect your kids. While homeschooling is not for everyone, you can simply tell your kids to not believe anything they hear in any class that is not math or science though even science is questionable. This is what my parents had told me when we lived in Kiev. Learn it, memorize it, get good grades, but do not believe a word of it, they said. Your kids can benefit from the very same advice.

10 / Prioritize freedom. America is a large place and it is hardly homogeneous. While the bigger cities have all but succumbed to progressive totalitarianism and utter lawlessness, other, more rural locations retain a modicum of the high-trust free society of old. Moving is never easy for all the reasons in the world, but paying less for more freedom is a great investment in your family’s future and in your own. If freedom is precious to you, move it up your priority list; you won’t regret it.