The Never Ending Price of Freedom
This question is an old musing regarding the ability of one to recognize their circumstance when all they have ever known is that exact circumstance. I'm at a place in life where I'm growing concerned regarding the mindset of our society. It's occurred to me that the same question regarding fish and water can also be applied to people and freedom. It would be worded something like this:
"Do people who have only ever known freedom know they are free?"
We are in a fragile place here in America as we now live in a nation where the vast majority have only ever known freedom. As a result, we have a clear vision as to the negative aspects of freedom. Freedom means sometimes bad things happen as there are some people who will use their freedoms in a reckless manner and as a result cause harm to others. When this happens it is the anomaly and therefore stands out as an exception to regular everyday life.
Sadly, free people sometimes struggle to see the benefits of freedom as they don't see freedom as a blessing or benefit....they simply see it as normal...and when something is seen as normal, it can be hard to still see it as special. Once something is no longer seen as special, people become risk adverse to the prospect of keeping and preserving it as its value is unrecognized.
For example, in America it's very common for people to use cars. Cars are not really seen as a benefit so much as just a normal way of life. But there are some major negatives to the use and existence of cars in our country. In 2017 over 40,000 deaths nationwide were attributed to vehicles. Many of these were accidents but some were more malicious. Some people used their freedom to drive a vehicle irresponsibly and as a result people died. In addition to the fatalities some people use vehicles to commit horrible crimes. Vehicles have been used to abduct children, prostitution, smuggling drugs and weapons, murder, human trafficking, and many other awful things.
Everyone one of us in society who drives or rides in a car accepts the fact that we could be killed each time we get behind the wheel. Knowing that, we still use cars, embracing the likelihood of being killed or injured is small enough that it's worth the risk to drive. And while we can admit it's troubling and upsetting some will use vehicles for nefarious reasons, or that accidents occur, we also recognize those negatives are worth enduring due to the overwhelming benefit vehicles provide to society. But it's impossible to ignore that as good as it is to have the freedom to drive and own a vehicle, something embraced and savored by almost all, it does in fact come with a price.
There is always a price to freedom. And that price didn't stop when the final bullet of the revolution was fired. That price is constant and ongoing. One of the prices of freedom is that there is always a collateral side effect. One of those side effects is that some will use it in a destructive manner.
The state motto of New Hampshire is Live Free or Die. This motto very accurately captures the dichotomy of freedom. There is a very real possibility that the outcome of freedom for some is death. When the first ships set sail across the Atlantic in pursuit of freedom, the reality is some didn't make it. When refugees flee tyrannical nations to make a run at freedom, many die in the attempt.
As one who has never lived under true tyranny it's difficult for me to appreciate what these people must be experiencing to face almost certain death by challenging a foreboding ocean with only a life raft, or setting across hostile deserts with little more than a pair of tattered shoes and a jug of water. How bad must the absence of freedom be to risk so much and in many cases pay such a high price to attain it?
Is it possible that, like our cars, even though we strive to make improvements such as safety features, design, etc, there is one component we may never conquer? That component being the fact that there will always be some who choose to use their freedom in destructive ways?
Perhaps that is part of the price of freedom - that some casualties are simply inevitable, and as scary and disturbing as that is, it is still worth the alternative. A society that is not free.
The price of free speech is some will use it to say vile things and promote evil.
The price of gun ownership is some will harm others to the point of death.
The price of cars is some will be irresponsible and use them for evil, some will have accidents or back over a child, or whatever else.
When confronted with the pros and cons of different topics we often look at the topic itself rather than recognizing these are ultimately about freedoms. Every freedom we take from one who might use it carelessly is a freedom we also take from the rest of society to use for good.
The common component for heaven on Earth and hell on Earth are the same thing. Complete and total freedom. It's easy to see how complete and total freedom can lead to anarchy and thus hell on Earth. But could a utopian heaven on Earth ever be experienced without the existence of that same freedom?
A society motivated by fear must be very careful. For a fear based society will be tempted to seek to restrict the freedoms of those that scare them, unwittingly restricting their own freedoms as well. Eventually in an attempt to mitigate the inevitable detriments that come with freedom, a society could evolve to the point that its inhabitants are tempted to risk life and limb to flee their existence in pursuit of the very freedoms their parents and grandparents once possessed....but slowly gave away.