So, I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom lately, and I just thought I’d store my thoughts somewhere they can be seen and thought about and used as a sounding board. Let me know what you think!
When people say that ‘freedom isn’t free’, my mind automatically goes two places. The first is the physical cost of freedom, and the ever growing body count associated with that. Particularly within the last hundred years, freedom as a political institution has been put under attack like never before. This cost of freedom I think is the most visible, because the effects of it are most easily seen. A country’s population cannot survive without a next generation to fill the roles of government and economic officials. If all the growing candidates for those roles have been killed while defending freedom, then one can easily see how the cost of freedom is high. After all, “the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” (D&C) 18:10.
I believe, however, that there is as well an unseen cost of freedom–a steep one, one that everyone must pay or suffer the consequences. To keep an institution based on freedom running, the people behind that institution must be constantly watching themselves and those in charge. No free government or society will work without the full support and attention of the people behind that government or society. A government is not a babysitter, they are leaders. They aren’t the law, they aren’t freedom. A government is not meant to amaze or entertain, they are there to govern. To bind. To quote George Washington, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence,—it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant, and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.” This does not mean it is undesirable or unneeded. Anarchy would reign, and those few with evil in their hearts would make a hell of our world. But we cannot lie content with the way things are and forget our inherent duty that accompanies freedom. To procrastinate and resist the harder road is only human, but it must be resisted.
To use a biblical example, the Israelites in leaving Egypt at first wanted freedom more than anything else. They were in bondage and saw the benefits of running their own lives. After being set free however, they realized that running their lives meant having to deal with things themselves and take responsibility and find their own solutions to severe problems. They saw opportunity in the land promised them, but also extreme opposition–and that scared them. They no longer desired freedom and asked Moses to take them back to Egypt… and so they ended up wandering in the Wilderness for 40 years. ‘Nuff Said.
This same thing, I believe, is happening in America. When we founded this country, people were expected to know about the state of affairs in politics and economics in order to be a real contributing member of society. The people accepted that responsibility and for a while, the country was protected. In contrast, today we have a nation of people more focused on entertainment than protecting their freedoms.
To sum up, the cost of freedom is to constantly be on your guard, to put aside your entertainments and distractions and learn about the world around you. And for this generation–my generation– that doesn’t come easily. Not to me, not to my friends, not to anyone. Rousseau said that a government or social contract sells a little freedom for security. I would add that selling that first amount of freedom means you are no longer dismissing the temptation but continually resisting it instead, and that’s hard. I just hope that I have not grown so fond of the system I am in, the security given me in feel that things will be taken care of without my help, that I cannot protect the freedoms I have left. Freedom isn’t free, it means responsibility. It means letting others fail if they have to, because they need to grow. It means helping people change themselves to help each other rather than changing the institution to take the help off their minds. It doesn’t matter where you fall in the spectrum, just that you participate and take part. Cozybooks, you are a part of the future of America, along with thousands of others. Make it count.