The Paradox Of Freedom

Georges van Hoegaerden

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Freedom is the hallmark of American society, an attraction that led me to this country, to begin with. Little did I know then, I would have to define the economics of freedom myself if I ever wanted to live amongst it.

I am a staunch supporter of freedom, and not just because my story is a deliberate continuum of its pursuit. But more importantly, because freedom is mandatory in the development of our merit, that of our offspring, and the sustainability of our evolution.

Without accurately defining what constitutes freedom, not nature’s law will put us under, but we become the limiting factor to ourselves in the endurance of human evolution — way before the sun heats our planet to unbearable temperatures in some 3.5 billion years.

 

The Grand Canyon of freedom

Despite a significant incentive to keep ourselves in tip-top shape, combined with our avid posturing on the world stage of freedom, we make a mess out of freedom.

We artificially divide people in the U.S. into two main groups, with each their own stark “religion” of freedom. So stark these days, that I see many people increasingly base their friendships on their shared political affiliations — a sad state of affairs.

Republicans generally believe freedom ought to have no boundaries, and Democrats wallow in trying to regulate everything to protect freedom. Plenty of evidence exists (and I provide on my blog) to signal neither stance has worked very well to serve our diverse needs of freedom adequately.

Some 70% of the U.S. population executes their freedom not to vote and has already disenfranchised itself from the politics of freedom, as those politics consistently fail to produce a responsible reality of liberty. And people who do vote, perhaps unknowingly, promote governance that leads to an astounding 27% of children to wonder where their next meal is going to come from (yes, in more than one state of the United States).

When we cannot even raise our children right, I suggest it is time we stop acting like the mother of the world. Let us not brag to the rest of the world what freedom looks like until we have adequately defined a model of freedom we can successfully apply to ourselves and becomes a real inspiration to the rest of the world.

 

Disconnected governance

The exposure of spying practices by the National Security Agency (NSA) further heats the discussion about freedom and shows more of our government’s ugly underbelly. More will surface, as increased transparency will drive its accelerated exposure. Spawning an even more vocal outcry and a broader spectrum of freedom we seem to demand from our government.

I care less about our current political system, for the simple reason that I don’t believe the makeup of humanity is divided into two camps. And thus, the current political system cannot be used as the model that serves the evolution of humanity. The current political system too, will meet the sickle of freedom one day.

Despite my ignorance of the workings of politics today, I do not believe in a grand government conspiracy by its politicians, no matter which party rules the roost. I am also confident we would all pare down our criticism of specific government actions, knowing what the NSA knows about the covert threats to freedom that plague our world.

Yes, many generations of our flawed implementation of freedom have also scorned the integrity of the political system we built. No surprise. But we cannot hate the players for playing the game we created. And having met some members of The House and Senate personally, I can attest: they mean well and curious, but because of their focus on partisan struggles, generally uninformed about, and disconnected from the real world.

 

Wolf in sheep’s clothing

Even in the private sector, technology hangers-on like Google chairman Eric Schmidt, who managed to make enough money to buy everyone’s attention, now attempts to promote the unleashing of freedom further. Suggesting to end all government censorship, by encrypting everything on the internet.

First, that suggestion coming from Eric Schmidt ignites in me the same Pavlovian response as when venture firm KPCB wrote a document of how to turn-around the United States of America, while KPCB’s performance on its home turf (in spawning groundbreaking innovation) left, now admittedly, a lot to be desired.

Eric is equally calling the kettle black. Not only do I not have any faith in the person who could not reinvent then technology powerhouse Novell as its CEO, but performed equally underwhelming at Google. Google succeeded not because but despite Eric Schmidt. And while Google builds some impressive technology, my technology security experts convince me it could only do so courtesy of a war-chest amassed by years of sneaky monetization techniques on the backs of willfully uninformed consumers.

Freedom is unlikely to come from those who still revel in, and benefit from its abuse.

 

The paradox

But here too prevails the ignorance of freedom. And we cannot merely act in disdain and punish those who take freedom’s lack of definition for a glorious ride.

We should not punish an untrained dog for leaving the house when we leave the front door open. Nor can we hold our government, or the majority of people in the private sector responsible for the abuse of similar undefined freedom. Neither will think they did anything wrong. Nor will the dog. Until we define what “wrong” is.

Freedom is a relativity theory that cannot be supported by absolutism that defines its application, but it can – and must be – protected by a single model that prevents its abuse. Freedom cannot exist without guard rails, the paradox, which protects each pursuit of freedom from harming another.

 

All of us govern freedom, versus no one

Freedom cannot exist when the governance of freedom is only in the hands of a government, nor can it survive when it is just in the hands of its people. For the need for collective freedom must be balanced with the need for individual freedom.

The past has demonstrated time and time again, how unbridled freedom by the people is just as bad as unfettered freedom by our government.

Hence, the wild suggestions to obliterate the NSA, or to encrypt all internet traffic, are ideas that confess gross ignorance of what constitutes freedom. And if executed on will lead, as the past has already demonstrated, to quite the opposite of freedom.

Freedom is the hallmark of American society, an attraction that led me to this country, to begin with. Little did I know then, I would have to define the economics of freedom myself if I ever wanted to live amongst it.

 

[ I humbly dedicate this blog to the most selfless freedom-fighter ever lived: Nelson Mandela 1918 – 2013 ]

 

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