Freedom Is Not Free (An Important Cliché)

On July 6, 2014, in Uncategorized, by rsguthrie

clicheYes, it’s cliché, but the reality of clichés is that they more often than not develop from fact and truth. The term “cliché” is most often used to denigrate a lack of imagination on the part of the writer. I don’t disagree with that label most of the time. Cliché writing as a practice is, like telling rather than showing, like a pox on your creation.

But that doesn’t change the fact that freedom is not free, and there are too many people in this world who have no idea what that cliché means.

SomaliaAll you need do is spend some time away from the Wii; away from the computer games, away from the virtual farming and gambling and world-building and Google Somalia, Laos, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Central Africa, Myanmar, Chad, Congo, Sudan, Zimbabwe, or North Korea. And these are but the Top Ten war-torn countries in the world. Some of the most dangerous countries are in the Middle East (Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Pakistan, Mali, Syria, Libya, and Yemen). Mexico has become another of the most dangerous countries to which you can plan a visit.

westboro1Now let’s say this upfront: NONE of these countries are full of citizens who should be condemned. Just as true Islam does not support terrorism, violence, nor hate (radical Islam being the violent faction of the religion in a way as The Westboro Baptist Church is unaffiliated with the true Baptist faith). And neither do any of these countries necessarily represent even close a majority opinion of the radical beliefs nor approval of the horrific actions of some of its insane countrymen; these merciless, ultra-violent, murderers of the elderly, women, and children, most unforgivably coming from their own country.

Yesterday here, in the United States of America, we celebrated our 228th anniversary of our country’s birth as a nation dedicated to freedom. This weekend I also watched Born on the Fourth of July (Tom Cruise) and Nixon (Sir Anthony Hopkins). The latter I’d never seen. Much of the central theme of these movies was anti-war, anti-establishment, protest, protest, protest.

mt-rushmoreAgreeing or disagreeing I found myself PROFOUNDLY PROUD of our country. Not of our international policy or wars or anything smelling of Washington, but rather what was forged by our forefathers and many who came after them: Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin—later Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan, Bush Sr., and, yes, Obama.

I do not claim a political party. The stature of our country is not eroding because of whomever sits in the Oval Office; we are in decline on the world landscape not because of a war against madmen who would sooner chop off the head of every free man and woman and child in the U.S.,  U.K., or other free non-radical country on earth; we are devolving because of the massive growth over the past decade or so of crippling polarism.

Pit_and_PendulumLife, for any of us—any skin color, religious belief, lack of religious belief, sexual orientation, or gender—does not, beyond the immutable Laws of Physics, exist at the far ends of the spectrum. Anyone who has seen the classic horror film, based on Edgar Allen Poe’s brilliant story, The Pit and the Pendulum, knows that the pendulum, no matter how far to either side it swings, makes a difference only the middle. In the case of Poe’s imagination, that action is horrific, so it may not be the best analogy. But I think you get the point.

While violence and hate and intolerance and insanity occur in the extreme, concepts like democracy (not to be confused with Democratic) and freedom (the freedom that allows explicitly for the aforementioned protests) occurs when one side meets the other somewhere between one extreme and the other.

So what is your point, Guthrie?

My point is a simple one, though less simple to practice: believe in your country; appreciate your freedom; and do BOTH before you act, speak, or even think a terrible thought.

YOU.

ARE.

FREE.

This does not mean mistakes aren’t made. This does not mean that just because you are paranoid that they aren’t watching. This by no means implies our government deserves less criticism. Just the opposite, in fact. Our forefathers (and the mothers behind them) encouraged such checks and balances.

stock-footage-usa-flag-waving-in-the-wind-highly-detailed-fabric-texture-perfect-background-animation-forTHAT’S what we were supposed to be thinking about yesterday as we hung Old Glory, cooked burgers, lit the fuse and cheered for the fireworks. Too many people have lost that understanding. In our neighborhood, we listen to fireworks for at least two weeks before and after the 4th of July. It dilutes the meaning of the holiday. And it makes me sad.

Polarism.

Forgotten patriotism.

Neighbors not only mistreating neighbors but ignoring them altogether.

Mark theses words:

It will be the seemingly small things that end us.

And by “us”, I mean humanity.

That’s where the individual becomes two and then four and then a million and then a billion. THEN we change culture, and next, the world. It doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything.

It only means we have to believe in each other’s FREEDOM.

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The blank page is dead…long live the blank page.

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15 Responses to Freedom Is Not Free (An Important Cliché)

  1. Wayne says:

    Rob, my friend, I have to disagree with you about Islam. In the Quran, there are at minimum of 109 verses calling for the deaths of non-Muslims. Here’s a link to a few of them: http://www.wvinter.net/~haught/Koran.html

    By the same token, Christianity also has a large number of commands to kill, too. And so does Judaism.

    All three branches of the Abrahamic religions have apologists, and cherry-pickers who don’t want to acknowledge the horrific-ness of their chosen faith, and those that wish to say, “No. My religion teaches us to love one another, and not to judge each other.” Yeah, it may say that once, or twice, but honestly, and objectively, none are religions of peace, or love. Just look to the holy books, and you’ll see this.

    I think this world won’t be worth much until we cast of the chains of these Bronze Age belief systems. Does any believer not wonder out of all the things in life, why it is that these are the only remnants of that age that are still held on to? Seriously. Name one other thing from ancient history that is still kept, and held dear. Bet you can’t.

    • rsguthrie says:

      Wayne, my friend, this is why I avoid all discussion of “religion” and politics, always. I have read the Bible, cover to cover, more than once, and while the Old Testament is much more fire and brimstone, the definition of “Testament” implies “Contract” and a new set of “rules” (if you are so inclined to feel the need for one (a set of rules; which I am not). I did not mention either book. I have many Muslim and Christian friends (among other religions), and they do not interpret any book to advocate violence, death, killing, and maiming innocents as a core (or even a tenet) of their faith.

      I can name hundreds of things, throughout history (including the Bronze Age) that are “held dear”. I purposefully put “religion” in quotes because I personally believe named religions (and yes, large parts of the books that “support” them), are human constructs. That belief, however, does not mean there is no God, nor that large parts of the common ground between all “religions” are quite possibly God’s attempt to communicate to people of a different culture and belief system, that identical message of ultimate love, forgiveness, tolerance, and peace (hundreds of messages for which I can quote you from the New Testament).

      When you add more dimensions than the physical three we see before us, and the 90% of human brain power that is (I believe purposefully) untapped, the possibilities of Universal reality are far beyond the abilities of you or I to expound them. Period.

      Also you missed (and did not comment on) the point of the post. You did, however, prove my point completely:

      That the vast majority of humanity has the audacity to believe they have the intellect and spiritual knowledge to live at one extreme or the other, declaring without uncertainty, 100% fact as to the nature of the Universe in which we live. Far too many minds greater than ours have professed a profound belief in various “religions”. I find it incredibly conceited for any one human to declare any complete certainty whatsoever as to understanding the indisputable nature of our existence.

      In response to your “apologists” comment, I will tell you I have seen far more of those who decry “religion” because it calls for them to act in a manner that they simply do not want to act (and I have admittedly been one, and, like alcoholics, we are blinded by our own weaknesses).

      And don’t bet me to find anything in history.

      Also never forget: history was written by those who won wars and hanged heroes. You’ll note I wrote nothing from books; only from current, observable realities.

      And YOUR freedom allowed you to abstain from one point of view without your door being battered down in the middle of the night, your women raped and murdered in front of you, your children stolen to be armed and reeducated, and yourself shot in the head. That was more along the path of my point:

      Appreciate that freedom more, as you exercise it, and thank those before and after you who choose to protect it for you.

      • Wayne says:

        I do that those that fought for our freedoms lo 238 years ago. However, our freedoms have not been in jeopardy but once since then. I don’t know why, but no one seems to remember that.

        The Civil War was about keeping the US as one country; the Spanish-American War was about expansion; our involvements in both world wars was ultimately about revenge; Korea was about helping a country that asked for it; Vietnam both helping a country that asked for it, and stopping the spread of Communism; Bosnia & Sarajevo were police actions; Iraq & Afghanistan were revenge driven, and about spreading capitalism.

        So, good sir, what do we keep from ancient history besides religion?

        • rsguthrie says:

          Wayne, Wayne. I have worked for 20+ years in environments responsible for knowing what you don’t (and don’t want to) know. Trust me, our freedom is threatened 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Bliss is a by-product of ignorance (I hate that word—it’s negatively connotative…how about necessarily uninformed?).

          I wish I didn’t know what I know; it keeps me up at nights. 9/11 was a failure in the system that works 365 days a year to protect our freedom.

          Part of what we do (part, I say, because I am far from naive) is deter governments and organizations that, given particular advancements (e.g. nuclear), allowed certain strengthened relationships, etc. WOULD threaten this country, its borders, its cities, and its citizens, relentlessly, ruthlessly, and with every intent to steal every freedom you or I ever had. Every day if they could. It’s not just our borders. It’s stopping the disease before it gets here. If the barbarians are already pounding on the gate, it’s already too late.

          Isolationism is not proof of a lack of threat. Just because lightning hasn’t ever struck you, doesn’t make you safe in a lightning storm, and it doesn’t make you immune to lightning.

          The world, its politics, wars, good, evil, machinations, threats, etc. are far, far, far more complicated than either of us know. But I’m telling you, without telling you: they are out there, and they count in the millions. And in most cases, we are their only targets.

          • Wayne says:

            As an ex-Navy man, I have an inkling of what you mean. However, those are threats to our lives, not really threats to our freedoms.

            I mean, the United States is working with what is essentially 22nd century tech whilst our nearest competitor is still wrestling with the 21st. And the barbarians, you mention?

            They’re a bit further behind than that. However, in no way am I dismissing them.

            I lost few close friends of mine while they were on a SAR mission in SOPAC when a two year old, wired with grenades, lifted his arms to be picked up.

            To be honest (and this may make me sound like a monster), but I think the only solution to the Middle East mess is to launch 48 UGM-133s at the entire region from around Alyatki…

            • rsguthrie says:

              I honestly can’t reply to the first part of your reply; I’ve literally said more than I should already. Just think of the logic this way: it’s not the barbarians or their 18th century technology. It’s the Wizard(s) behind the screen. We aren’t the only folks with “22nd century” technology. Have no noticed any disparity the past decade or so in “Made in the USA” and “Made in _______”? About that I jest (although we DO make a mean pair of blue jeans). But seriously, you put a nuclear missile in the hands of even a barbarian and show him how to aim it and fire (being simplistic here for discussion’s sake) and it doesn’t really matter who pushed the button (other than politically). NONE of the “third world” countries would be dangerous without weapons from the “super-powers” (yes, us included—the enemy of my enemy is my friend B.S.).

              Freedom is as much an ideal as a tangible thing (maybe more so). Frankly, most the time I don’t feel “free” at all. Beholden to my company 85% of my life; beholden to the bank; laws; taxes; etc, etc, etc. I’ve considered becoming an expatriate more than once. Taking our lives IS taking our freedom (and enough of our lives and it’s our COUNTRY). Ask the victims’ of 9/11 families if they feel like they lost any freedom. I know every time I am groped and scanned and held up at the airport, kept from bringing this much shampoo, and no fingernail clippers, or a Leatherman, I feel like I’ve lost freedom.

              And again on the “killing of individuals”, Clint’s character William Munney said it best in “Unforgiven”: “It’s a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have.” Can’t think of much of a greater loss of freedom than death. Just because we’re alive doesn’t mean there aren’t 3,000 Americans that lost their freedom in 2001 (and hundreds that lose it every day).

              • Wayne says:

                This is a thought provoking topic, and a good one to have, but how about we switch to email both so we don’t clog up your page with it, and so we don’t bore your other readers?

  2. Caleb Pirtle says:

    Great post, Rob. You don’t write blogs often anymore, but when you do that have dramatic impact that goes straight to the heart. The political party that understands and supports what you have written is the party that has my vote. However, you have more guts to say what you believe than they do.

    • rsguthrie says:

      I don’t write often anymore, and that saddens me. The day job consumes me once again. But I appreciate educated writers whom I respect greatly, such as yourself, letting me know it still makes an impact. If there is one thing I’ve learned is not to be afraid to say what you believe. Saying it to people without ears or an open mind? Nah. I’d rather slam my head against a brick wall a hundred times or so. More productive.

      Thanks, my friend.

  3. Wonderful post, Rob! I recently visited the Korean Memorial in DC, and saw that exact “cliche'” inscribed in stone. “Freedom is Not Free.”
    Religion, Politics, Faith…it’s all about choice. We have choice in our Freedom, thank goodness!

    • rsguthrie says:

      AMEN. Most people (we, too) take it for granted sometimes, I think. We need a reminder that all we have CAN be taken away. I lost a son—a baby, to SIDS—one day you can be free and the next you can be shackled with no end in sight. Thanks for reading and commenting, Mary.

  4. Mike Shields says:

    Thanks for the observation about The Westboro Baptist Church. I just wish there were more like you that don’t equate what they represent with all of Christianity.

    • rsguthrie says:

      TWO AMENS on that one. I just think about the bikers that showed up that day the wackos picketed the funeral of a soldier, revving their engines, blocking the idiots from sound and view! Wow. I’d have given anything to be there. Thanks for the comment. Made my day.

  5. Jon says:

    Very good post! As a Veteran, from a very long line of Veterans, it is greatly appreciated to see someone actually get it right when talking about Freedom. So often I see/hear people talk about Freedom as something that is only for those who agree with their beliefs and not someone else’s. They forget that Freedom is for Everyone, not just those that agree with you.
    While I do write, I would not say that I am as good as you at making my points. You do a wonderful job at it, and I feel rewarded that I came across your site. I look forward to reading more of what you have to say.

    • rsguthrie says:

      Thank you for the read, comment, and support, Jon. May I take a moment and thank you (and your family) for your service? I truly appreciate the sacrifice. It’s sad that so many Americans not only take their freedom for granted (or don’t realize they are even FREE), but more importantly, all that it has taken (and still takes) to win and protect that freedom. The world is not a pretty place. Outside our borders, as you know, there are literally countless individuals, organizations, states, and countries that would do anything at all to destroy every man, woman, and child in this country. In fact, it would be considered by many of these entities as the ultimate victory, whether military, spiritual, religious, or all of the above. I’ve worked where I know this not to be paranoid or hyperbole. It’s not reasonable to expect the average American to understand all that goes into protecting our country, our culture, and our freedom, but everyone should appreciate both FREEDOM and the men and women who sacrifice to protect it indefinitely.

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