What Price, Freedom?

Image of different coloured hands reching upward from behind a barbed wire fence.

We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.

~ Barack Obama

President Barack Obama needs no introduction here. Suffice it to say that he is missed for his grace, his indefatigable spirit, and his love for his fellow man. The concept of freedom has been on my mind, and I find these words spoken by Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention in 2012 to be uplifting.

In a day and age when the culture of entitlement threatens to banish the ideals of duty and service to the nether reaches of the universe, it is encouraging to read these words or watch them being spoken by President Obama. It is more than significant that he begins with “We, the People…” since there is no ‘me’ in democracy or community.

One of the reasons our modern western societies are wracked by violence and crime is because people have lost sight of these values. Those who feel disenfranchised and turn to anti-social behaviour are entirely responsible for their poor choices. The rest of us are responsible for allowing their plight to exist in the first place. How can that be?

Look closely at these words: “… a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism…” speak to us about our shared role in a free, democratic society. Our western societies are among the wealthiest and best educated in the world, and yet we have homeless people, embittered unemployed workers and professionals, and outraged victims of racism and other forms of discrimination. Among some, the response to these people is utter disdain and demands to quit complaining and get a job. I know there are some lazy freeloaders in this world, but let’s not label all of those feeling disenfranchised as such.

I have the right to do the best I can both for myself and for my family. As Obama reminds us, the flip side of that coin is the set of responsibilities that comes with my citizenship. No matter how successful I become, the naked truth is that those achievements were not gained just by my own efforts. Both my formal education and my socialisation were provided for me – by my parents, the taxpayers who provided the institutions, and the many adults who had a hand in forming the man I am today. I did not choose my family – I lucked out. I did not run that household, my parents made the decisions and provided the necessities of life. There would have been no food on the table if the people of our small town didn’t support my dad’s business. My Dad’s grocery store didn’t have a huge corporation behind it. The customers stayed with him because he was honest and fair. They looked to him for their grocery needs, and he looked to them for loyalty and support. No one operated alone.

Some of us were born into good circumstances while some were not. So what is a caring community going to do about that? Handouts are not the answer because they violate the dignity of the recipients. Collectively, we have enormous intelligence, resources and wealth. Why is it that we can’t figure out how to reduce the number of disenfranchised citizens to almost zero? We can fly into space, invent amazing technology, but we can’t resolve a problem that has plagued mankind down through the ages? Can’t or won’t?

Obama’s last words give me a chill: “… a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defence.

Freedom without adherence to the moral and legal obligations that come with citizenship is unworthy. It is empty and self-defeating. We are better than that. Donald Trump exhorted the American citizens to “make America great again.” Why stop there? Shoulder to shoulder, we can stand together to figure out the solutions and give each other the support to make them happen. Let’s make humanity great again!

Advertisements

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (http://fiorabooks.com), to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

27 thoughts on “What Price, Freedom?”

  1. Hey John,

    Both thoughtful and passionate I applaud the sentiment and appeal to hearts and minds. Citizenship carries a responsibility to our fellow man, our actions, activities, and intentions should be underpinned by a desire for inclusivity, equity, and equality for all. I do not believe any Government funded by private business, global energy companies, financiers, bankers and businessmen will ever have any intention of placing the people’s interests first and foremost when deciding on policy. Whilst the Earth continues to turn on an axis of fool’s gold, the evil propensity towards self-effacement, greed and the acquisition and maintenance of power will prevail and no society will progress to become a Civilisation, an Empire, a United World. Governments are both barriers and instigators of change, but they are led by their pay-master’s, mere puppets, media faces, and House sitters. I believe the world has a fundamental distrust of politicians, governments and bankers, and little respect for them outside of their rhetoric and media visage.

    I look to the future John with uncertainty. Perhaps you do as well, your interest in science-fiction may suggest you also seek a vision for a better world in the future than the one plagued by profiteering politicians, egoists, tyranny, veiled democracy and powerfully influencing shadows with immense wealth pulling strings. I would be surprised John if you did not enjoy your research and investigation, you write with certainty and confidence, so may I leave you a link to an Adam Curtis film called Hypernormalisation. If you have already seen this film shown on BBC I-Player then I apologise for its repetition and inclusion here, but if not, should you a couple of hours spare it is worth watching.

    Thanking you again for an inspired post and opportunity to reflect via a comment.

    Namaste 🙂

    DN

    Like

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful and heartfelt reflection on this post. I appreciate your kind words. The apocalypse that set the stage for my Genesis Saga novels is all too possible, and I wonder where surviving humans might go to build a new civilization. In my last two posts “Nationalism…” and “Global Rule…” I explored many of the ideas you touched upon in your comment. While realizing that there is no such thing as real democracy as long as the wealthy control government, the only hope I can see is a federation of the existing nations into a global government. Nationalism is not solving the serious problems face by humanity, but only exacerbates them. I fear that the most dangerous threat is irreversible environmental damage. It will take a global authority to enforce solutions, in my view. Looking at the present and the past, I’m not hopeful. But I can’t be silen either. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey John,

        I admire the fire burning inside you and the direction of your thought. A Federation is one possible means to a global end…and perhaps in essence I agree in a one world governing body managing resources and people globally and effectively with total transparency rather than states, nations and countries always competing.

        However, one wonders how to eradicate the underlying notion that Governments, World Leaders, Politicians, and other ‘authoritarian’ bodies should in any way be differentiated from their people by privileges such as wealth, status, power, and protection from public exposure by convoluted laws. They write their own legislation and laws to defend their rights and dismiss or slowly remove ours. I do not think that any democratically voted politician should ever be able to profiteer from public office nor be given second chance in different guise in an alternative public office. The arrogance of these distanced fools seems to have no end. I am a firm believer that having been voted in to power by a ‘democratic’ process, a government should remain fearful of its people, not its people remain fearful and contemptuous of its self-effacing government.

        It is really refreshing to hear you speak out with mindful thought and ideas when so many appear unwilling or unable to consider alternative forms of Governance. Change and transformation are very much needed, and one can only hope that whatever route we might follow into the future, we, human-beings, are always ascending and not merely stagnating in our evolution at the whim and muse of others.

        I am an Englishman living abroad in Wales, a country that I have grown to love and appreciate far more than my 35 years living in England. Here there is a far more refined nationalistic pride, not an arrogance or presumptuousness, but a deeply rooted culture extending back into antiquity, and perhaps even further back than that. It is an ancient place where families maintain traditions more often associated with smaller communities…a more earthy way of living. I feel very settled being here as opposed to my experiences in England. What makes Wales unique is that it still differentiates itself from the UK via its language, the language of the Celts, and I find that appealing, fascinating, and inspiring. Once upon a time not that long ago, there were 5 Celtic speaking nations, and sometimes I sit to imagine how wondrous it would be to have all 5 nations united under one banner, as one Isle, devolved from mainland UK and the monarchy and established under a new monarch with ancestral ties to the land. I would like to see a return to an agricultural based economy with a programme of effective reforestation and preservation of the land ( I too am passionate about that). As in the golden days of Kings of old, when the wealth and fortune of a realm and its people was closely affiliated with the land…physically, metaphysically, and spiritually as well. Perhaps it is now only within the confining covers of a book that such dreams would ever be realised, but still I think it a vision worth holding on to. Wales is a stunningly beautiful country, more castled than any other in the world, and a place where on a quiet afternoon one can hear angels sing and Kings stirring within stone Caerns.

        Sorry to have nattered on so and taken up space. I enjoy the discussion of ideas so thank you for opportunity to do so. I’m sorry my reply was a little late, busy days and nights and a little chance for sleep waylaid me.

        Thank you John for hospitality. Hoping Wednesday, Woden’s day, or better still for a writer, I hope mecredi, a calque of ‘dies Mercurii’ (day of Mercury – the demi-god of communication’) was successful and brought revelation, encouragement, and messages from far beyond this realm.

        Namaste 🙂

        DN

        Like

        1. Hi, Dewin! Your thoughts are always welcome on my little piece of cyber-space. I live in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada where Spring has been very reluctant to show her face. I’ve not travelled across the pond to the UK, but I’ve learned a wee bit about Wales over the years. I smiled when you wrote about how much you love Wales, the language, culture, and more agrarian lifestyle. I dislike large urban centres – I live an hour’s drive from Toronto and I dread having to go there.

          You are right in your assessment of current democratic leaders. It isn’t the system that’s flawed (even though it isn’t perfect) but rather it is the dark side of human nature that drives the corruption and dishonesty. Human nature will never change – it has not changed one iota since humans crawled out of caves. We as individuals and as a group must desire to curb our basest desires and our self-centredness. We need to adopt an attitude of service. I can deal with imperfection and mistakes. I cannot deal with corruption and inhumanity. Certainly, not a quick fix. I think it starts with people reaching out as you and I are doing right now – reaching across a vast ocean to shake hands and commune seriously and honestly.

          I fear climate change and it seems to be advancing rapidly with more extreme weather events around the globe each year. We don’t seem to have decades to get around to doing something about it. I hope I’m dead wrong. I fear that I’m not. National govenments have failed the planet badly and there is discernable movement away from the ideals of global citizenship… “my country first”.

          I’m happy that we can exchange views about these important matters, Dewin. I wish you a wonderful Thursday!
          Peace!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Hey John,

            Sitting to type in the wee small hours of Thursday morning, I have coffee in one hand and Heavy Metal blasting through the speakers with the volume knob turned up to 10. I love the peace and silence, the solitude of these early morning explorations into thoughtfulness inspired by a backdrop of ear-splitting fury. 🙂

            Thank you for your reply and the invitation to visit and freely discuss topics. I too appreciate the continued exchange and trading of perspectives. Your views are perhaps better balanced than mine, I can be quite extreme in my outlook occasionally, but it is fuelled by passion never anger. However, I feel we share a strong sense of understanding and have common ground on many levels. I was delighted to hear you knew something of our small country, no doubt it would have cropped up in historical texts at some point? As to Canada, I have a father living in Vancouver, and hear him speak favourably about life over there, suggesting Canada is very much a modern country with a progressive outlook. He is certainly very much settled there and enjoying the experience. I trust you might one day visit Wales and find her to your liking, bring warm clothes, sturdy footwear…life is better seen off the beaten track. And I shall be venturing to Canada at some point in the near future, perhaps next year.

            The dark side of human nature and its propensity towards self-preservation: where once it protected us from predators and promoted the success of our species, today the same animalistic drive has been usurped by the propensity towards acquiring wealth as means to ensure the survival of the ‘fittest’….hence the deliberate promotion of base desires and the innate impulse for greed rather than service. Money by itself is not evil, but the manner in which it is used is, not only does wealth stratify and fracture societies but it is no longer a fair or relative commodity when used for trading goods and services either. People are not measured by their ‘worth’ anymore but by their perceived commercial value…normally a derived two figure integer able to be slotted conveniently into a spread sheet. Apparently the full spectrum of what constitutes the totality of a human being – an entity made from star-dust – can now be so easily reduced and manipulated to two digits. I admire Einstein’s capacity to reduce the universe into a tea-cup, but my employer, my Government, the World I live in, surely they cannot measure my worth by just a futile and meaningless method? But they do. It is all part and parcel of attempts to erode personal identities and homogenise the people of the world, and whilst I wholly applaud the removal of barriers, I don’t want to be known as number 12, although it has a ring to it….or maybe that’s just my ears protesting at the volume.

            Sadly you are right John, the World’s power structures do not want to let go of their fiefdoms of power and embrace the change that the people of the world demand, deserve and have a God-given right to expect. The laws and policies that are passed…one wonders who judges these to be fair and reasonable? Judges? Lawyers? Bankers? Millionaires? Billionaire businessmen? God? Certainly not the latter in this adrift age of empiricism.

            I am with you every step of the way regarding global warming: there is real need to respect protect and restore our planet and encourage its flourishing once again. I do believe the nature of myth and legend and hope that my longing for a New Eden, a New Earth is a vision shared and born from a memory of a utopia long past. A place that human-kind once walked away from to evolve independently, freely, and without coercion, but who now walk towards a vision of this yearning memory gain. One hopes future generations will benefit and prosper more wisely as a result and progress what we start in out time so that future generations can be assured of a beautiful home. We have only Earth, and whilst we may be ephemeral fleeting forms occupying space and time on Earth I believe very strongly that we still do have a responsibility not an obligation to nurture Her. We would not be here without her mothering ways.

            Well John, it’s a little after 3a.m, and I must away before the demon alarm wakes me and returns me to the coal-face kicking and screaming. A day’s work ahead…tethered to a desk, weathered by disinterest, buried under paperwork, resting in pieces… and every minute of it will thankfully be one minute less to do before a little freedom at week’s end. So I shall bid thee au revoir John. Thank you for discussion and a warm hand-shake across the great puddle. Thanks too for Thurday best wishes. Thor’s Day! Hammer time! Can’t wait lol 🙂

            Be lucky John. Take care of one and all.

            Namaste 🙂

            DN

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a powerful article, John. As I commented on another of your posts, this is beautifully written and succinctly explains the rights and duties of not only national but also universal citizenship. I am accepting your challenge to make humanity great again! xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Tina! As I said on the other post, I believe that you are already fighting that good fight to make humanity great again – one post at a time. History teaches us that the power of the written word is immeasurable, especially now when the word is carried to billions worldwide by social media. Your intellect, writing skill, and most importantly, your great heart that comes through your writing so clearly, all combine to do much good in the world. For that, we thank you.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re welcome, John. And I’m humbled by your kind words. I’m so grateful we’ve met. It will take the union of all of our hearts and spirits to meet your challenge. The journey might be a long one, but travelling with friends will make it seem less so… xx

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by with your thoughts, Jan. Agreed about Obama. We Canadians would have loved to have him. But I remember that our Pierre Trudeau was far more popular outside the country.

      Like

I love comments & questions! Please share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s