Freedom … going…going…

History repeats itself, not exactly, parrot fashion, but it repeats itself in the sense that the names and places may have changed but the similarity is not purely coincidental.

In the rich world we have become obsessed with security. We were once obsessed with freedom. Or forebears fought to be free and freedom was more important to most of them (perhaps because they could not achieve freedom) than wealth or security. They accepted that freedom requires insecurity to some extent.

Today governments have increasingly reduced freedom in order to increase security. Fortunately there are still brave people who value freedom more than security. Unfortunately very few of them are in politics.

We get the politicians we elect, and therefore we get the politicians we deserve, those who cater to our wants.

We may have wanted freedom once, but now we want security more than freedom. What were we fighting for? Once it was freedom but now it has become the two roomed apartment on the second floor.

In the two hundred and fifty years ago Edward Gibbon wrote

“In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security.  They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all –  security, comfort, and freedom.”

He was writing about Ancient Athens. He told us that when we achieve security, we do so by delegating our freedom, because we delegate our responsibility and when Athens did so “the Athens ceased to be free.” In a world where free nations close their eyes to torture on the grounds of security, where free nations criticise the publication of documents that show their complicity in torture on the grounds of security, and where we obediently modify our behaviour because we are too scared to do as we choose because we are frightened of losing our comfort, it will not be long before we lose our freedom and with it our security.

 

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