Sunday, July 4, 2010

Let Freedom Ring

Wikipedia describes Freedom as: Free will and liberty; the ability to choose one’s own destiny, and the concept of having the right and ability to do as one chooses.

In truth, freedom means very different things depending on who you are and where you live.

A child in Africa.

A woman in Saudi Arabia.

A prisoner in North Korea.

An elderly person in Somalia.

Each one of these people will think personal freedoms are a quite different thing than say anyone in these categories who live in Sweden, Great Britain, or America.

Every day that a person wakes up with a roof over their head, shoes on their feet, food in their fridge and the ability to get their basic needs met without stealing, begging, bribing or being subject to interrogations, humiliation or serious self sacrifice, enjoy a level of freedom some people have never known in their entire life.

“Any existence deprived of freedom is a kind of death”- Gen Michel Aoun

X-box, 42 inch flat screen TVs, jetted hot-tubs, leather interior sports cars, pillow top beds, silk lined jackets, the list goes on and on of things the average middle class citizens have in America. While it’s very true that these items were worked for, paid for and are used and appreciated, the level of comfort experienced by many people would be considered uh-heard of opulence to billions of people who share our planet.

“Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings.” Helen Keller

The irony is that with all their technology, all their expendable income, all their freedom to access world news, the average middle class person in most civilized countries is badly informed on the conditions of other countries and honestly maybe, would prefer to not know. Many of these same people do not even really know what’s happening inside their own countries. And that is not just sad, it’s dangerous.

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” –Thomas Jefferson

It is undeniable that the average citizen of any population doesn’t understand the magnitude of running a country. They often don’t want to be bothered by the messy details and aren’t prepared to deal with the level of cool-headed diplomacy required to keep alliances friendly and antagonistic forces in check.

“Many people know so little about what is beyond their short range of experience. They look within themselves - and find nothing! Therefore they conclude that there is nothing outside themselves either.” Helen Keller

But, it is also undeniable that the average citizen of any population should have the ability to demand their basic human rights and embrace a level of comfort during their existence that is in proportion to the output of their efforts and willingness to work, in an environment that allows success, rewards progress and encourages entrepreneurial spirit the way the American founding father’s envisioned the New World of America.

No matter what anyone says, the political and judicial systems in America are the most successful to date. And while they do have enormous flaws and holes, and we have much to learn from the successes of other civilized countries and the failures of uncivilized countries, there is no one here who could visit even the average poor country, and see their lives as being “about the same” in quality of life. Photos of these other countries are indeed "Postcards From Hell."

We in America are standing at a threshold of change. A change some think they want. A security they think they can buy with new laws and giving up freedoms.

“Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” –Winston Churchill

In that desire to have change and feel “safe”, we cannot trade the very freedoms that ensure those abilities to create change and feel safe, for the illusion of “safety and change”.

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” -Helen Keller

“Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” – Benjamin Franklin

“You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don’t ever count on having both at once.” –Robert A. Heinlein

The solution to starvation, lack of employment and a severe disparity in the “distribution of wealth” around the planet it NOT for everyone to move to America or France. It is NOT for “rich Americans” to donate and entirely support other countries, although sharing of our affluence as a philanthropist “love of humanity” effort ARE excellent ways to show altruism. That is, giving generously expecting nothing in return.

The real solution to the problems cannot be addressed en-mass until all citizens in all countries have a chance to experience “freedom” as civilized countries define it. People cannot fight to have what they have never seen an example of. Neither can they secure those rights and freedoms if they are starving, homeless and sick.

"Fear is the foundation of most governments." - John Adams

"The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted." - James Madison

Until countries demolish a segregated “caste system”, religious choice is viewed no differently than interior decorating preferences, nationality and “race” are viewed as variety “as a spice of life” and the wants and needs of the people are being governed by a mostly honest leadership and enforced by a fair and just judicial system, freedom will continue to be an elusive dream to billions.

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” –Martin Luther King Jr.
Many people in America are angry about the war in Iraq and the wars that came previous to that. The “war” may have started as retaliation to an "act of terrorism" in America, but keeping US soldiers in these other countries continues largely because the general population of these counties cannot survive with their current leadership. They cannot eat, work, and live with the political contention between their “government” and the religious groups they live near.

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” -Helen Keller

Firstly, America needs to be grateful every day of their lives that they live in a country that long ago fought and secured the level of freedom we enjoy and take for granted daily.

Secondly, we need to recognize that other countries want even a fraction of the freedoms we have. They may not know exactly what they are missing, or exactly what civilized countries have done to obtain those freedoms, but they want them too. And as human beings who hurt, bleed, cry, love and share the human experience, they should have the ability to live free.

Thirdly, civilized countries should help destroy the corrupt governments that keep their people impoverished and in turmoil. A starving, uneducated country will never be a peaceful country. They will never be a self-sustaining country. Until we remove the predators that are stealing the assets meant to improve the quality of life for the average person, and teach them skills to cultivate their lands, educate their own children and clothe their own families, they will always suffer at the hands of mercenaries and be reliant on the kindness of strangers in other countries.

The terrified, poor people will always be begging at our boarders and their corrupt leaders will always pose a threat at our gates. We need only to remember Hitler to realize, we *cannot* ignore any of them.

“When once a republic is corrupted, there is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils but by removing the corruption and restoring its lost principles; every other correction is either useless or a new evil.” - Thomas Jefferson

Every country has its assets. Every people are capable of developing some marketable skills. Third world countries have the ability to be flourishing, happy civilizations if only we can overcome the greed and evilness of a few, and establish a ruling system that empowers, educates and employs the average citizen. It is so very possible, but unfortunately not probable given the current power hungry climate that puts greed and selfishness above the virtues of compassion, tolerance and generosity.

As America celebrates our hard earned Independence Day, let us not forget our brothers and sisters in other countries who are still struggling to gain the right to clean water, adequate food and honest law enforcement. The rights and freedoms our ancestors died to give us. We owe it to our forefathers, our children, ourselves and our entire species, to have free will and liberty: the ability to choose ones own destiny and live life in harmony with each other and nature. And never give up the ability to fight for those precious freedoms.

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” -Helen Keller

Happy Independence Day America!

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