It was on January 6th, 1941 that President Roosevelt outlined a goal of Four Freedoms for the world. For those who don’t remember, the list included:
1. Freedom of speech and expression
2. The freedom of people to worship God in their own way
3. Freedom from wants
4. Freedom from fear.
This noble concept was introduced to the American people at a time when the nation was at peace. World War II was entered a year later and two years later the four freedoms found themselves honored on a US postage Stamp by a nation involved in global conflict.
In our traditional world, people would speak in public and publish handbills. Speech and freedom of expression, no matter how vile, were tolerated so long as there was no inciting to violence or acts of violence. This was a sometimes difficult balance for law enforcement to keep but it was a balance we lived with for years. Today, American’s rely on the Internet for knowledge and our Government fears true freedom of information. Should the diary of Che Guevara be online? How about the Weatherman’s Handbook?
Both of these subversive books taught bomb building and gorilla tactics and were available in my youth. Interestingly, both seem to have become over the years primers of violent behavior for patriotic militias as opposed to the call for socialist revolution that they were intended to be. Sad to say freedom of speech and expression is close to dead with Google being the main source of information and with the firm engaged in content filtering over the whole world. I do not believe that the leaders of our past would have accepted that Google’s contract with China embraced a world where freedom of speech and expression were important instead of selling the Chinese down the river for corporate greed. Since Google owns the search engine they can spin the story however they want and you will only find how great the deal is for them and the world.
Religious intolerance has now become the norm. The Christian Moral Majority no longer accepts my right to peacefully worship when, what and how I see fit and to accept my belief in a woman’s right to control her own body and destiny. To me, stem cells are no more human that a teenager’s nocturnal emission from an erotic dream and I believe I have the right to believe that instead of blowing up teen age bedrooms or incarcerating teenagers for murder. I also believe that everyone has the right to start their day with a spiritual invocation, a moment of silence or a nonviolent rant du jour as long as all are in reasonably good taste. I also believe my tolerance is closer to the four freedoms than the political activism of the Christian Moral majority or the Taliban. If I were God, they would all be burning in hell for violating the freedom of people to worship God in their own way.
Freedom from wants seems to be the only universally accepted personal freedom we are willing to extend to others so long as they fulfill that freedom on their own. Still, I can’t figure out why its better to spend trillions on global wars while failing to provide for our own impoverished whether that impoverishment is spiritual or actual. It is easy for me to tell an old spiritually impoverished homeless panhandler no while it is impossible for me to not want to help a child who is hungry, abused or tormented for some difference. Regardless of whether your charity extends to every group, it’s got to be better to help impoverished Americans then to spend trillions on unwinnable wars.
As to fear, only a jackass would not be afraid of a government out of control, elected by a so called moral majority with a religious agenda and fighting foreign wars without true purpose.
Today the Four Freedoms are 67 years old and they are dead from neglect and apathy.
As Ben Franklin said a couple of hundred of years earlier, those who sacrifice freedom for security cannot be free or secure and deserve neither.