Sunday, April 24, 2011

What is Freedom?

I have been struggling for quite a while with various topics, and which ones I would like to bring forward to anyone who might care to read my thoughts and ramblings. But these days, the future has been solidly on my mind - in particular the changes that have taken place in our society over the time I've been on this earth, and changes that will certainly effect my step-kids as they finish school and head out into this world of ours. So one of the topics I wish to tackle and publicly wrestle with is the concept of "Freedom" and how the freedom we have come to expect inside the United States is being systematically removed from us right before our eyes.

What is "Freedom"?

Much of today's society has twisted the true philosophy of freedom. How many people have you seen complain that their "freedom of speech" has been infringed when they write "{insert person, place or thing here} sucks" on a public forum, only to find their statements stricken from the public record by moderators? In fact, they have forgotten the companion element of freedom, which is "responsibility". You have the "Freedom" to say whatever you want, as long as you accept the "Responsibility" of those statements.

And so it is - in my opinion - that to be free, means to be responsible. It is so evident that so many of us have either forgotten that true freedom requires the component of responsibility, or we have abdicated our freedom because we no longer wish to be responsible.

Consider the "typical" person who lives on public assistance (not the person who most would argue "truly needs help" of course). How much of their freedom have they given up, and how much responsibility do they abdicate? In the obverse, how much freedom does the person have who qualifies for public assistance, but chooses another (legal of course) way to survive? How much responsibility have they accepted? Who of the two people in these examples is more "free"?

Another grand example is how people deal with adversity or natural disaster. How many of the people who found themselves trapped in New Orleans after the hurricane were truly "free" when they opted to depend on the Government to help them? In contrast, how many people in Gulfport, MI found themselves in trouble after they opted to take responsibility for their own lives?

How about the right to bear arms? In so many places, weapons are now illegal - if not impossible - to own or carry, all in the name of freeing ourselves from danger. But at what cost? There is an incredible amount of responsibility that goes with owning and carrying a firearm, but why are we not given the freedom to accept that responsibility?

I'm sure there are literally thousands of examples, but I believe there is one single truism that you will find in nearly every example. The more responsibility you take, the more free you become. The more responsibility you release, the less free you are. It is this truism that shapes my personal and political views of today.

How many laws or regulations has our Government has passed over the past 5 or more decades that relieves us of some kind of responsibility? In effect, how much freedom has also been relieved? One huge issue today is healthcare. Prior to the healthcare law passed by Congress in 2010, how much responsibility did one have to have to protect themselves and their families? It is argued that people now no longer had to worry about paying for health care - they were "free" from that burden. But at what cost? According to the law, everyone now must pay for some kind of health insurance or be "taxed" because they chose not to. Freedom taken away. In all cases where a similar system has been tried, it has lead to less access to care, and a lower level of care than we have experienced in the United States. Responsibility removed - along with the freedom to choose or freedom to quality health care.

To be truly free is to be responsible for ourselves and our loved ones. This leads to true independence. And when you look back to what our Founding Fathers fought for and crafted through our Constitution, isn't that what they had in mind? They knew that true freedom required responsibility of the individual, to themselves and their families, and people who took that responsibility seriously could achieve true independence.

While this may seam to be a foreign concept to many (and I believe we have been conditioned to forget these simple concepts), I strongly believe this is the roadmap we need to follow to drive our way out of this terrible mess we find our country in today. We don't need the Federal government - or state or local government for that matter - to be the one stop shop and final regulatory say for every individual it serves, and history proves that it's certainly not sustainable. The Government cannot be all things to all people, and was it never designed to be.

The challenge many of us face now is how to turn back over a half century of "change" that has negatively effected our freedoms. While we would like to blame Democrats or Republicans, the real blame rests with those of us who have remained asleep during these changes, or have accepted the lie that these small changes and erosions of our freedoms are somehow necessary.

The question becomes - "what will you do now that you know what must be done?"

How you answer could change our world - or allow he slow, painful demise of our once great nation.

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