Politicians and pundits use the phrase “Cost of Freedom” a lot, usually in reference to something they are asking you to do that you probably prefer not to, such as pay higher taxes, wear a uniform, submit to intrusive surveillance, or simply keep quiet about any doubts you may have about the former.
Before going into the cost of freedom, however, perhaps we need to take a closer look at what we mean by freedom, exactly.
There is no pure, perfect freedom. We all agree that there are certain things we should not be free to do, such as to walk in and out of each others’ homes removing TV sets and jewelry, or shoot the neighbor who is hard of hearing and falls asleep each night in front of the too-loud TV set. We understand and agree to certain rules required to create a society in which specialized skills operate together in mutually beneficial commerce.
So, let us start out by defining a free society not as a society where people are free to do what they wish, but as one in which we freely choose to surrender certain behaviors in exchange for the benefits of living within that society. A covenant exists between the rulers and the ruled in which each freely agrees to follow a set of rules of behavior, in exchange for a certain set of rights. In the United States, that covenant is enshrined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, a contract which lays out what the government may, and more importantly may not do.
In a free society, the covenant must be enforced on both the rulers and the ruled equally. To enforce the covenant upon the people there is law enforcement, and when needed, prison. To enforce the covenant on the side of the government, the Founding Fathers created a government of three components, each charged with keeping an eye on the other two, and when needed, to legally restrain excess of authority.
The Founding Fathers created a nation in which government was broken into separate components that enforced the covenant on each other because history has shown that power attracts the very sort of people who should never have it. With precious few exceptions, most people who seek power do so for very selfish reasons, and willing to do anything to get it, are usually equally willing to do anything with it. A free society must be one in which the freedoms of the rulers are subject to the same limits as the freedoms of the people.
At the dawning of the Third Millennium, the United States has fallen from the Republic created by the Founding Fathers to a society in which the government is not enforced to adhere to the covenant, and rights and freedoms are surrendered by the people not in exchange for benefits, but by trickery and deception.
The US Government has fallen from the high and noble ideals on which the nation was founded. The covenant is broken, and the US Government rules the nation by fear, not only of its direct authority but of an endless and unbroken chain of manufactured fears used to terrorize the people of the nation into agreeing to surrender more rights, more money, even the lives of their children.
For almost 50 years following WW2, the US Government waved the fear of “The Communist Menace” at us all, in response to which We The People surrendered trillions of dollars building nuclear weapons to point at the Soviets. Looking back, we see that the Communist government was at the same time waving “The Capitalist Menace” at their citizens, to trick them into surrendering their wealth into building of nuclear weapons to point back at the USA.
Following the collapse of the USSR, the United States Government lost its most potent demon to wave at the masses. But it was quickly replaced with SARS, Aids, Swine Flu, Avian Flu, Ebola, Global Warming, Global Cooling, inflation, deflation, and most recently terrorists. Each and every demon was waved at us to trick us into surrendering more of our money, more of our children’s lives, more of our rights, and each and every demon had no more substance than the paper-mache’ heads used by the Wizard of Oz to trick Dorothy into making war on the Wicked Witch of the West. Fear gave politicians issues to run on, defense and medical corporations markets for their products, and media sensational content for their periodicals and broadcasts.
That it was all trickery and deception with the purpose of tricking us out of our rights was best illustrated by President George W. Bush’s plan to deal with Avian Flu, which not only enriched his good friend Donald Rumsfeld, but also included gun confiscation. It should be noted that firearms (and the second amendment) do not increase one’s susceptibility to infection by viruses. Clearly, the real agenda isn’t to save the populace from a flu virus (which as of this writing has actually killed few humans), but to grab the guns and remove the right to firearms recognized by the Founding Fathers.
The problem with a government that rules by fear is that once they have started to use fear on their own population they can never stop, never allow the fear to subside, never allow the population to calm down and think rationally. Because when the population stops being afraid, when they start to think, they will start asking why they cannot have all the rights, freedoms, and money back. This actually happened following the collapse of the USSR in 1990, when Americans, tired of the trillions in taxes collected and spent on the nuclear deterrent, demanded a drastic reduction in military spending. So, in 1991, the US tricked Saddam Hussein into invading Kuwait by promising they would not object, then invaded Iraq, thereby having a convenient war to keep the military budget inflated.
Today we are in two wars, both of which now appear to have been started with outright lies by the US Government. Americans are starting to say “no” to more wars and that is a good thing, for above all else freedom means the freedom to say “no” to the government,; to remind them that they too are bound by the covenant to restrict their actions to the letter of the Constitution and the laws.
The Cost of that Freedom isn’t paying more taxes or wearing a uniform; it is simply to decide one will not be afraid of the manufactured demons put forth in print and in TV that serve no purpose than to keep the people meek and under control. That is all it takes; the will to not be afraid.
Of course the government does not like people who refuse to live in fear, or who say no. Every time a citizen stands up and says “no” the tyrant fears. Every time a citizen refuses to be afraid the government will work extra hard to make that person afraid, and even today we see those who speak out, because they are no longer afraid, subjected to harassment and intimidation. Yet they remain unafraid, for they see the harassment and intimidation for what it is, a symptom of a government losing control of the people, and they choose to remain unafraid.
So, that’s really all there is to it. Refusing to be afraid. Refusing to be tricked out of your rights.
Freedom is the freedom to say “no”, and the freedom to live your life unafraid.