Is 'Freedom' Real?
what am I talking about...
Freedom is banded around too much these days. We talk about the free world, freedom of speech etc. In reality that notion of freedom might actually be an illusion. Throughout history people have always wanted to be free. The politicians of our time always declare us as part of the free world. We are not being oppressed; we can do what we want with in reason. Although the English do not, many countries like France and the USA have constitutions with their rights and freedoms solidified in writing whereas people have been fighting wars for freedom for thousands of years.
I wonder who among us actually realise what Remembrance Day is for. The whole country stood silent for two minutes to commemorate the people fallen to defend this countries freedom. 90 years later we, together, with all the countries we fought aside, and even fought against, still value these freedoms and honour their sacrifice. Even today we have troops fighting in Iraq to preserve the freedom of the people of that country. But to be honest do we really understand what were fighting for? The idea of freedom has just been accepted. Once that word is heard it is made an honest thing to fight for, even though it is a very difficult concept to understand.
Let us take in to account every day freedoms; you, I hope, have chosen to partake in reading this by choice. We can say what we like with no secret police or Gestapo figure recording every word we shall say. We have the freedom to stop reading this, just stop. There will be no armed guard “persuading” you to stay.
This evening you are free to watch television, choose to watch programmes that present a wide variety of views, read the newspapers, use the Internet freely. You go to bed thinking how lucky you are that you live in a free country.
the other side of the coin
However, in the small hours of the morning, it is possible that another reality might intrude, one of nightmare proportions. In this one your every move, to the school to the shops to work, to the park is watched by a myriad of cameras, there is no hiding place, apart from your home, but what about that strange feed back on the phone, are you being bugged by MI5? You have a pile of official forms on you door step demanding that you reveal all sort of personal information from you inside trouser leg to what flavour ice cream you prefer. This information will be put on file, downloaded to a high security laptop and left on a train to Brighton, truly the stuff of nightmares. It is all too much, you think a drink might calm your nerves, but not here sir this is a no drinking zone, down the pub then. Smoke sir? Not here out side with the other social lepers. You make to escape, get away from it all, a holiday perhaps. Hold on they’re testing my toothpaste at the airport, I can’t take my favourite aftershave for fear it might blow us all up. Why are they sniggering at the x-ray machine? Apparently they have a machine which gives them the freedom to see right through my clothes.
You sit on the plane and unfold your newspaper to catch up on events: conkers cancelled, its far too danger! Boxing banned! Fishing finished! Hunting halted! You begin to sweat again. Time for another drink. You hail the stewardess, “miss can I have…” she stops you in mid-sense “kindly refrain from using such sexist language” you sink lower in your seat, guiltily recalling all those who you might have offended with you rash free-speech using such awful phrases: manhole covers, Christmas, chairman, fireman!
Finally you touch down in exotic parts, pour into terminal building and look condescendingly at all the veiled women, identical in their berkers. At least we still have the freedom to chose what to wear you remind yourself as you join the other two hundred passengers waiting at the luggage carousel, all resplendent in their identical top shop rainbow tops and plastic flip-flops.
You wake up with a start, thank god it was only a dream then you are made aware of the CCTV cameras outside slowly moving in your direction. You get a strange feeling inside, suspicion paranoia, who is watching you.
I’m not saying that we are not free, or shouldn’t be thankful for how much freedom we do have. But what you do have to remember is that your personal freedoms will always be restricted in the interest of others. Total freedom is anarchy, but democracy is as far as we can go without resorting to it.