Thursday, February 22, 2024

Thoughts on Freedom

Dear Editor,

I was recently on a road trip for five days.  This gave me plenty of time to think about the anti vaccine protests and other issues that seem to cause frustration to some people. The thoughts were random and unfocused until I saw something unexpected.

As I was passing through Texas, off in the distance I saw a house in the middle of nowhere with giant U.S. flag draped over one side of the roof. As I got closer I could see, at the end of the house, another huge sign that read “FREE MEN OWN GUNS”.

As I turned this over in my mind, I realized that issues like guns, COVID, voting rights, policing often seem to use arguments about loss of freedom, to make their grievances more visceral.

This focused my attention and thinking about freedom. I’ve never given the idea of freedom much thought. I never needed to. For the past 73 years I have never once felt a lack of freedom. I wondered why is it that some people feel so very threatened about their freedom. Am I unusual to think we live in a free society?

Yes, people’s lives were not always free. Long ago people banded together for mutual protection and support. These groups were led by kings, queens, lords and tribal and religious tyrants of all sorts who promised protection in return for loyalty and service. This evolved to the point where these leaders had all the power and the people had none.

Various attempts at democratic freedom were attempted by Greeks, Romans, etc., but serious democratic freedoms did not evolve until 200-300 years ago. After several revolutions and insurrections, armed conflicts forced kings to give up their power to systems of democratic rule. In those times, that Texan was right. Free men did own and need guns.

Eventually, in Europe and North America, democratically elected Governments evolved. Constitutions and charters of rights and freedoms were written into law. For the past 150 years, all adult people could vote for the leaders of their choice and people were free to live their lives under a rule of laws. The need for insurrection and guns and violence to set the rules about how governance works had passed. Or so I thought.

Oh it is true that to live together in a complex society, we have accepted to live by very many rules that admittedly do constrain our freedom. To name just a few…

A) People must be educated and licensed to: Drive all vehicles, planes, boats, etc.

B) We must have licenses to fish, hunt.

C) We must have a passport to travel internationally.

D) We must have insurance and wear seat belts when driving a vehicle.

E) We must drive on the correct side of the road and obey all road signs.

F) We must be of legal age to vote, consume alcohol.

G) We must pay taxes, as decided by those we elect, to pay for common services.

H) We must vaccinate our kids before they can go to school to prevent diseases like

hepatitis, polio, smallpox, mumps, measles, rubella, chicken pox, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis. There are exceptions but in all cases where an outbreak occurs, unvaccinated students must stay home.

We have excepted all these things as part of the price to pay to live in our society.

So… I can’t understand what all the histrionics, anger, blockades is about re: Covid Vaccinations and masking. Doing these things has kept a lot of people from dying.

And yet… some people do not feel ‘free’ enough. Like that person in Texas and Freedom Convoy Blockaders in Coutts, Alberta who think they need guns to fight for their freedom. But what freedom are they fighting for? It is incomprehensible to me. I’m beginning to think that, in fact, their definition of freedom is totally different than mine.

Maybe their definition really means that they want to do whatever they want and not be in hindered by science or anyone else’s opinion or anyone else’s way of thinking. They can’t compromise for their own good or for the good of the society they live in. They are willing to use violence to achieve their ends.

As a society, we will never be able to achieve that kind of ‘freedom’.

I don’t want to let these people be carriers of a virus that will mutate into other forms for which new vaccinations will be necessary and me and my family will need yet another vaccination because of these troublemakers.

So coming back to the sign that started all this off. That person who had their sign said free men own guns, it’s just bogus. Our freedom was secured long ago, what it really means is fearful men own guns.

We don’t have to be fearful because our freedom is not in jeopardy.

And we don’t need dumb convoys and blockades to protect us from Covid vaccinations.

David MacDougall, Meaford

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