The concept of freedom is something that many people believe in. Most consider themselves to enjoy a certain level of liberty, yet these same people, myself included, often voluntarily give up their rights for various reason. We, as a society, have grown complacent. We want to live a life of leisure and have forgotten that it is labor, and the fruits of our efforts, that give us satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. It is also the price of freedom that we must be responsible for our own well-being. Sometimes we are coerced into forfeiting our liberties in exchange for the promise of security.
Here is an example. We used to be accountable for our own safety. Most people carried appropriate tools with them to defend against wild animals, criminals and the like. The entire population would maintain a certain expectation of behavioral standards for anyone within their midst. If someone acted inappropriately they were corrected by whomever witnessed the offending behavior. People knew what was expected of them and, for the most part, acted accordingly. There was a saying, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” This was because there were no excuses. If you were found guilty you didn’t get a pass because your mama died or you were blinded by drug abuse.
Over time, we delegated the responsibility for maintaining a peaceful community over to law enforcement. It was a gradual shift, but it happened all the same. The more authority we gave to these designees, the less freedom we maintained ourselves. In today’s world we have millions of law enforcement officers and the authority that they have been granted is vast. Most of these men and women act in what they believe to be ethical ways, but many don’t even realize that they are infringing on the freedom that we hold dear as a nation. Some have a gnawing voice in the back of their head that tells them that what they are doing may not be the best choice, but they justify it by saying that they are following orders.
I am not in any way saying that we should not have laws or the means to enforce them. I am only pointing out that in today’s world there are abuses of power. Start looking around online and you will find stories of grandmothers being shot while picking up a baby as police burst into her home. In another instance an innocent man is killed by police as they raid the wrong home in the wee hours of the morning. School systems are being given grenade launchers and local police departments are spending millions on mobile command units, MRAPs are being supplied to local police by the Federal Government and the list goes on. In fact this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg!
More disturbing to me is the so-called “Patriot Act” which allows our government to hold someone accused of “terrorist activity” without any due process. No warrants, no trials, no right to council, and in some cases no one knows they are even being held. This can be done to US citizens just because someone SAID that the suspect was participating in questionable activities.
Our freedom, our privacy and our very way of life is under attack…and we are doing it to ourselves. Whenever we shirk our duty to maintain liberty, preserve a peaceful society and uphold our laws we also give power to others to take advantage of our lack of attention. If you willingly give up your rights you have little recourse when others abuse the authority you granted them.
Those who surrender their liberty in exchange for the illusion of security will be left with neither. The only true security is the freedom to defend oneself.