Saturday, June 13, 2009

Freedom Isn't Free...

What's that actually mean, anyway?

I see it everywhere here in Springfield. It's on bumper stickers, billboards, tattoos, church signs, and everything in between. Most of the slogans are printed on some type of ribbon, usually yellow (here's a GREAT article informing that, by the way), and accompanied by a tacit embracing of our current "war on terror" (again, not a term I fully understand).

So my question is this: What exactly does "freedom isn't free" mean?

Well, let's start with the term "freedom." We all want to be free, right? So it would seem like this isn't a very controversial place to begin.

I'm assuming that the bumper stickers are not enticing us to enter into some debate on free will, so we'll put that one aside. I'm guessing (and this is Mother Culture whispering into my ear) that we're talking about the simply freedoms here. The "freedom tos" and "freedom froms," as it was phrased in my Intro to American Politics class. Freedom from oppression, freedom from tyranny, freedom to consume, freedom to associate with whom we choose, and so on and so forth. I'm already smelling something fishy.

The party that has chosen to associate themselves so closely with the phrase "freedom isn't free" and other pro-war sentiments, the Republicans, have decided that choice here at home is not important.

Those who slap "freedom isn't free" bumper stickers on their car would do their best to make sure homosexuals never have the choice to get married or adopt children, women never have the choice to abort under any circumstance, nobody has any choice but to speak English in America, everyone eats sleeps and breathes Jesus Christ, and nobody had any choice but to purchase American made products. So essentially what I'm assuming now is that the "freedom" in the slogan "freedom isn't free" is a very loaded term. It doesn't really refer to "freedom" in its pure sense, but rather a particular brand of freedom.

So then the next obvious question is this: Why is freedom not free? The slogan is obviously suggesting that the price of freedom is blood, and that's not something we should be taking lightly.

This one makes a bit of sense to me, actually. There are circumstances, I believe, in the face of true danger, that one must be prepared to take up arms and fight for their right to survive. Instances like WWII come to mind. So again, at face value, I think we can probably accept this premise. Freedom isn't free. I'm fine with that.

However, it's being misused. Those in the Middle East don't pose a threat to my freedom. If we want to discuss whether or not the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and the like pose a threat to their own people's freedom we can surely do that, but let's not kid ourselves into believing that we're currently fighting for fear of our own oppression. We spend more money on defense in one year than the entire Middle East would spend in a decade (and certainly more money than any terrorist group could ever acquire in its entire existence). We're more technologically advanced and better trained than those in that particular area of the globe will probably ever be. Any keen thinker could tell you that we can't really see them as a threat to the United States of America on the whole. That's simply absurd. So what are the real reasons we're fighting? Why are our coworkers, our teachers, our neighbors, our friends, our families, our brothers and sisters, taking the lives of other human beings in the desert as we speak?

And we've come full circle to the original question: What does "freedom isn't free" mean in context? It seems as though most of us can agree with it as it stands without it's political affiliation, which I think is one of its problems. It's PROPAGANDA. It's meant to trick people into buying into it. That's how slogans like that get their power. They say something simple and unassuming so we can all ascent to acknowledge it, but by doing so we're tacitly acknowledging something bigger (and usually far more sinister, as propaganda isn't a tool used when the facts alone would convince anyone with half a wit).

I suppose I'm not exactly sure where to go from here besides to say that I'm frustrated with the rhetoric that's being used to blind us. Have the powers that be decided that we can't decide things for ourselves so they resort to sound bytes and trick slogans to try and get us to buy into their points of view? Are we to blame for having so much going on that we don't have time to really inform ourselves and think critically about what we're consenting to? I'm not really sure, but we've got to start doing better.


Mozart said...

I don't doubt that your interpretation is correct--propaganda and all, or simply another way of saying "Support Our Troops."

But aren't there multiple ways of looking at it? Say, "Don't Take Liberty for Granted?" I think liberals would approve of that perspective. *coughSocratescough*

Alex said...

Thank you for writing about freedom.

I have also wondered what the phrase "Freedom isn't Free" means. I would ask someone if they used it in conversation.

I got an e-mail the other day saying the troops are "dying for our freedoms". This is an important subject which deserves much more discussion.