Friday, February 03, 2006


They Got That Right, Sort Of

Freedom ain't free, but the bumpersuckers seem to have missed the point.

While it is indeed costly to go to war, especially for the soldiers on the front (and the taxpayers back home), the real investing in freedom needs to come long before the Dubyas of the world start bullshitting about WMDs.

Investing in freedom means understanding our Constitution, that document Dubya thinks is only a piece of paper. It means understanding the balance of powers laid out by the framers. It means knowing that the Bill of Rights is a necessarily difficult document. It means casting
informed votes. It means insisting that candidates debate issues, not haggle over their parties' lies and innuendos about each other.

Investing in freedom means understanding the importance of a free press and vibrant public debate. It also means understanding that the media are vast business corporate enterprises in whose interests certain stories will be tucked away, never to breathe the fresh air of discourse or even see the light of day.

Increasingly, investing in freedom involves introducing other cultural perspectives into our comparatively rarified environment. It means understanding that our high standard of living is often at the expense of someone else's survival, never mind comfort, and weighing for ourselves the possible costs of privilege.

Investing in freedom does not mean racing halfway around the world to impose our systems on other peoples. Our systems are an outgrowth of our own values. If we can be of any service at all, it's to help other peoples to develop systems that grow out of their own values, or failing that, to stay the hell away. It means knowing that our actions affect others, whether we like it or not, and that our unwise decisions will have consequences we can't begin to imagine.

Alas, investing in freedom involves turning an increasinly jaundiced eye on the motives and actions of our leaders. It means thinking critically. It means being more creative than they are and holding them to higher expectations than those that they hold themselves.

If we don't put some energy into our idea of active citizenship, no numbers of bodies, no bundles of tax dollars will pay the ultimate price of what it takes to keep us worthy of freedom.

Otherwise, we'll be only as free as caged beings can be.

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