This article was originally published at americanchronicle.com on Sept. 18th, 2007.
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one,
I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.”
What is freedom? This is a question mankind has asked since we stopped our wandering and strapped ourselves to the land via agriculture. Since the dawn of civilization, man has wistfully longed for removal of the chains of the civilization he built. Even though civilization and the advent of large settlements led to more security for those living in them, there was something about the unfettered wilderness that called to the human spirit. Even back in our earliest days we as a race must have realized what we were giving up in order to conquer nature. And yet we carried on, developing better methods of farming, better housing, better transportation, and on the dark side, better ways of making war. And as technology improved and civilization became more and more complicated, freedom became more and more illusive.
In the modern world, we’ve built cities and countries and economies that have made us prisoners of our own design. We struggle for the almighty dollar so that we may live better lives. We seem to work more despite the advent of “time saving” devices. We seem to have less leisure time than our ancestors did. We don’t take the time to meet face to face with people as much as we used to, preferring instead to email or instant message. We seem to be isolating ourselves, and yet our reach is now worldwide. As we are reaching out more, we are being monitored more, and so we have lost our privacy. I’m not suggesting these things are necessarily bad, there is a lot of good coming of this, but there needs to be a balance. It is a strange and fascinating dichotomy we have created. There is so much control over our lives and yet we call ourselves a free society.
I am not so sure I know what freedom is, for I was born into this society and I only know how to survive within the bounds it sets. I do believe, however, that I know what freedom is not. Freedom is not a free for all bombardment of another country because it “might” be harboring someone with hostile intentions. Freedom does not mean forcing another country to accept a form of government it does not wish to accept. Freedom is not being forced to use a monopolistic currency based on debt. Freedom is not “free” health care that in reality someone else paid for in the form of taxes on their hard earned money. Freedom is not tomes filled with so many laws and regulations so as to fill an entire library. Freedom does not mean allowing big government to control every aspect of your life, to have it burgeon and metastasize into such a cancerous growth that the institution created by our forefathers to protect our freedoms becomes the death of those very freedoms. These things are antithetical to freedom. Freedom should be about the ability to make one’s own choice for one’s own self. That is something I feel less and less able to do.
Freedom is the light humans flock to. It is the longing to make one’s own way in the world. I doubt very much that many people in today’s world want to give up their modern conveniences and go back to a time when we were running through the forests naked, but we would like to be able to conduct our business with others without having to maneuver through the forest of paperwork governments require. We would like to be able to conduct our personal lives without government intrusion into everything from our finances to what we decide to put into our bodies. As a society, have we become so enamored with being told what to do and how to think that we have lost the ability to reason for ourselves? Have we become like the people in Plato’s cave watching shadows cast by firelight play across the wall and believing this to be reality? Perhaps the talking heads we see on television are the shadows dancing across the wall as we sit in our living rooms and believe what they tell us is reality. Perhaps we have grown so comfortable in our cages we can no longer recognize the bars surrounding us. Perhaps we have become apathetic as we muddle through our daily lives to the point where we don’t care when reality intrudes upon our neighbors and their worlds crumble to dust. We become uncomfortable if the illusion is exposed and begins to vaporize before our eyes. We prefer to sit in our easy chairs and watch the dancing shadows rather than peeking out at the bothersome light shining through the cave opening. That light is the light of freedom. Yes, it will hurt our eyes for a moment, but once they become accustomed to it the pain will ease. The time has come to shrink our government down to size, to bring our soldiers home from around the world, to stop trying to maintain an empire, to reclaim our money, our treasures and the fruits of our labors, and to let it be known to those who would try to strip our rights away that we will not let that happen. We can all step out of the cave of socialism we have built. We can join together in liberty. We can show those who would be our leaders that we understand reality, and that we chose the light of freedom. We can vote for Ron Paul and other freedom oriented candidates. It is time to toss out those who support big government, be they Democrat or Republican, and replace them with those who will let us live our lives the way we chose. It is time for us to take back what should never have been taken from us in the first place. It is time to demand that the constitution be adhered to and honored, which is the vow our elected officials take when they swear their oath to hold office. In this way, as each individual takes on personal responsibility for his own life, the light of freedom will brighten and grow, and America will once again become the beacon of hope to the rest of the world that it once was.