This post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations.
English journalist and author G.K. Chesterton once wrote a parable about liberty titled “The Yellow Bird.” In this parable, a Russian scholar, Professor Ivanhov, is visiting a friend in the English countryside. The professor had just published a much-praised book, The Psychology of Liberty. In short, he’s a zealous advocate of individual liberty and the elimination of all restraints on human conduct.
The guest cottage in which he stayed houses a small yellow canary in a beautiful cage. The canary seemed very happy to be where it was. Its song resonated throughout the cottage. But being the champion of freedom he is, Professor Ivanhov is convinced the little creature would be much happier and more fulfilled out in the world. So he liberates the canary from its cage and out the window the bird flies.
But it doesn’t fly for long. The wild birds of the woods were not as discriminating as the professor regarding liberty and soon ravaged the little creature to nothing but feathers and bones.
The next day, Professor Ivanhov set his sights on liberating the poor goldfish swimming contentedly around their bowl. With a crash of glass, the goldfish were set free.
On his third day at the cottage, Professor Ivanhov, contemplating the arching “round prison” of the sky, ultimately blows up the guest cottage with him in it culminating the end of a life lived in absolute liberty.