I hear it every day, from a lot of different sides of these politics in the United States. The Democrats and republicans are very fond of using the word "FREEDOM". To quote a good movie, (I love movies with pirates in them you know) "The Princess Bride", "You keep using that word. I do not believe it means what you think it means." Of course they do not know what it means. The word freedom has lost its meaning, as so many other words have, through misuse, and abuse. Other words that have similarly lost their meanings would be, "Racist, Racism, Fair, Greed, Abuse, Torture, Progressive, Fascist, and fortunate, as in that guy is 'less-fortunate". I may go into these other meaningless words later, but for now let's focus on Freedom.
What is freedom? Well as the first part of the word would imply, it has something to do with being "free". Now in today's society, "free" can mean without cost, but I want to focus on the "free" which would mean, "without restraint". If you see a bird in the sky, flying around, that would be a good example of a "free" thing. It has no restraints other than those that are placed on the bird by scientific forces, such as gravity, fatigue, etc. My pet parrot lives in a cage on my ship. He is a handsome devil, and gets fed all the best gourmet crackers, and he seems that he enjoys his life. He even calls out my name, and even curse words at usually the most inappropriate times, but I digress. He seems happy, but yet he is not "free". He is constricted to his cage, and although I let him out once in a while, he spends the majority of his time, not "free". The best crackers and the fact that he has never known what it is like to be "free" probably contributes to his seemingly happy life. But i do wonder if he yearns to be "free" or if the years of being trapped in a cage, and given all that he needs, have deadened this desire to be free? How many people in our society have given up being, "free" as long as their needs were taken care of by their keepers? Does this innate desire go away, or is it deep within ready to be unleashed (literally)? I'm afraid that this desire is gone from so many of our society.
The state of being without constraints would be what I defined as "freedom". You will hear over and over again, from the talking heads on televisions, to the blabbermouths on radio, to the guy next door, or the preacher in the pulpit, tell us that we live in a 'free" society, but I disagree. One will often hear people praise the armed forces, from those of long ago, to the ones that are currently fighting and dying on foreign soil, as "fighting for our freedom", or in the most drastic cases, "dying for our freedom", but again I disagree. More appropriately, they should say that these people have fought or died, for our protection, or the protection of what our leaders, duly elected have decided was worth fighting and dying for. I would say that they are fighting for our freedom, but I make the argument that we do not have freedom. More Free than some? Yes, but if I put my parrot in a really large cage, he is still not free.
But Ragnar, it's right there in the national Anthem, "the land of the free"! Just because something is written in a song, or a document doesn't mean that it is factual. Would you like me to demonstrate how you are not free? I will take an example from both sides of the current political system. The Democrats would say that we are free, but in a "free" society the leaders or governors of that society doesn't confiscate property from you that you have rightfully earned, yet every day for every dollar that one makes, that one has given a piece of their time(life) for 6% is taken off the top, confiscated and put into a plan that one has no choice to participate in, unless of course they are a member of the government, the railroad system, or the clergy (but only on the money earned whilst doing clergy duties), to be given back to this individual, if they make it to a certain age, and meet certain criteria. Forcibly stealing, looting, plundering someone's life can never be free. This is slavery in its simplest form, and at least indentured servitude, in the best of circumstances. The Republicans are no better on this issue. They had the chance to give power back to the people by privatizing this, but alas they did not. Their own desire to control was more than their desire to implement a little bit of freedom to the people. On the other side, the Republicans would tell someone that they cannot smoke Marijuana. Should people smoke marijuana? Maybe not, but that is not the issue. The issue is that the Republicans (and most democrats too) would say that you do not own yourself. We know better than you do about what you should or should not do to your body, so we will not allow this. Therefore, they are no better than the democrats, because they exert control over the individual. They believe they have the right to a part of you. You are property to them as well. Think that slavery was abolished in 1865? Think again. These people who spout off more about freedom than anyone else, have no clue as to what the word means.
One will hear about the greatness of all the other industrialized countries, and how great their systems are, and what the services that they provide for their people. You hear about the awesome healthcare that the people do not have to pay for, the 6 weeks of paid vacations that they may get the wonderful transit systems, free colleges, and such. Have you once heard anyone say, 'I think that ________(Sweden, France, Great Britain, Germany, Luxembourg, Canada is so great because they are so "free"? I never have, yet so many people look to these countries as role model as to what we should become. Why? Could people in those countries be so wrong? They seem to like it, so maybe we would also? Well back to my parrot; perhaps after so long of enslavement, they have grown accustomed to their condition. I can let my parrot out of his cage, yet he does not fly off. Why would he? He has all his needs taken care of; heck he doesn't have to think. He wakes up, and poof a brand new gourmet cracker, fresh water, and a place to poop. Life is great! Until i took him up the Amazon River one year, and there all around us were wild birds, flying around looking for their next meal or their next mate. Did my parrot look with envy to those birds, or did he look at them with ridicule, as in "har har, I don’t have to fly around looking for food, this guy brings it to me. I'm better off than you." I will never know, since I can’t speak parrot or read parrot minds, but I can tell you that humans have thrown off the shackles and chains from ancient times. We have an innate desire to be free. Free from the Egyptians, free from the Greeks, free from the Romans, free from the Nobility, free from the American slaveholders, free from Imperialism, free from the Soviet Union, and free from apartheid. Over and over again people have fought for and died for freedom. And what does this country do with its freedom? It allows rulers to be in place that would strangle, and chock that freedom, yet the people do it willingly for some sense of security.
I hear that some people are "unfortunate", or at least "less-fortunate", but I say that most people get exactly what they have worked for. "You reap what you sow" is found in all 3 major religions, and it is true. You get out, what you put in. All that you are is in direct relation to the choices you have made and the actions that you have done. However, there are those that are your enslavers, and to a certain extent, they can affect your "fortune". This is where the oppression is really aimed. The oppressors do not want you to succeed; they want you to be subservient. They are power hungry, draconian, and greedy. Yes I said greedy. That word gets thrown around a lot to describe individuals and companies that are trying to succeed, yet the ones that are truly greedy are the rulers-the oppressors. They want more and more control and power over the individual. They see you as nothing more than a serf or slave to rule over. They put systems in place that punish you for succeeding, and reward you for failing. You don’t have to be BF Skinner, or Pavlov to understand that the reward/punishment will lead to more of the behavior that leads to reward and against the behavior that leads to punishment. Is this all making sense yet? By punishing the successful and rewarding the unsuccessful they thereby create a society that is complacent to fail. They also pit one class against the other. Why? To remain in power. If they can create a society in which more than half the people are dependent on them, and do not strive for freedom, they thereby ensure their survival. Vote for me, and I will still give you _______, vote for the other guy and he will take away your________. We will take from them (the successful) to give to you (the unsuccessful). Easy enough, the revolution had occurred without a shot fired. Only the reward/punishment and the enslavement of their subjects.
How do I see freedom, and what can be done to instill it? Well in the United States there is a document that grants freedoms, and rights. Unfortunately, over the years some people have in times of crisis, expanded the government's control to a willing public who were afraid and wanted security. these abuses, were gradual, and only effected a small group of people, so folks said, "Okay, well if it only hurts_____, then do it", yet they failed to see the larger picture, that with each bit of freedom they conceded for security, or for the government's outright abuse of the documents, to which the citizen's did not demand an accounting, and repeal, they voluntarily were shackling themselves. The death of freedom by a thousand cuts. The cuts were so gradual, that after a while the people in their comfort and security began to like the programs, like social security, welfare, Medicare, and Medicaid. Sort of like my parrot likes those fancy crackers.
I hope that my parrot takes off one day in search of a tasty fruit, or bug, or whatever parrots like to eat out in the freedom of the wild. And I wish people in the United States would throw off the security of the social programs, to have a choice in their destiny, and to remove power from the rulers. But unfortunately like my parrot, which seems happy and secure in his cage, eating gourmet crackers, I am worried that the people in the United States, have grown complacent in their security, and their enslavement, and will keep the shackles on, until someone shows them what freedom really is. That time is coming, but many of these people will miss it, due to watching American Idol or the Sean Hannity show.