"How many years must some people exist before they're allowed to be free?" - Bob Dylan (in Blowing in the Wind)
It's scary how true this sentence is. Even in these times that we live in, times of great advances in technology, in science, in human rights, in international relations, there exists a basic lack of reverence for human freedom. Before going into any details, it is imperative to define what 'freedom' means. To be very honest, I haven't yet found one single, acceptable and usable definition of freedom. Everything comes with a catch. "The condition of being free; the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints" claims one of the official sources. Sure, I accept it. It could even be usable, as far as I am concerned. It takes in the concept of freedom of speech and expression, the concept of freedom from aggression and the freedom to think and act, and even, if you combine everything, freedom of communication. Seems fair.
But wait. Aren't we missing something here? What about the 'freedom' to be free? What about the freedom to live peacefully? And what about the freedom to feel secure about your life?
Let's face it. We are living in a culture of fear. An environ where we all, as a collective, are scared and anxious of losing our own lives, going into war, losing people we love. Of course, it seems perfectly okay to rebutt that argument by saying it is a completely human emotion. Fear and anxiety are normal. You love them, and you are scared of losing them. Why bring "freedom" into this rather simple equation? Blaming the government, blaming the authority, is all seen as a sign of weakness. Worse still, you are labelled a conspiracy theorist. The assumptions that come with that phrase!
There's terrorism. There's racial strife. There's international aggression. And then there come the casualties. Which, almost always involves the aforementioned collective. There is always something, something that binds you. This fear that has been successfully instilled in us through ensuing propaganda is taking over our lives, whether we are aware of it or not. You leave home, and there is this nagging doubt at the back of your head. Am I going to return home tonight? Or am I going to be found in rubble, arms and legs amputated? When I return home tonight, am I going to meet all of my family or is bad news awaiting me? If my country does go into war tomorrow, will I have to be part of the troops? Is the war going to be against me? What if tomorrow, a mob decides to revenge against my community and then rapes and murders my entire family?
No, these are not abstract doubts, fears of one individual. There are too many people at stake here, too many people who cannot help but wonder about the hundreds of gory possibilities that await them.
If I ask you, is that being free, how would you react?
Seriously, when are we ever going to be allowed the freedom to be free from this slavery to fear?