Wednesday, November 10, 2004
To be free, times three
Many words have been written on what is to be a citizen of free society and country.
Lofty ideals and words, profound thoughts and heroic actions, are usually exploited in the attempt to define and describe the ethereal values and charateristics of what being free really means.
While rummaging around in the attic of my small thoughts, it occured to me that to be free is to be a part of an ever changing landscape. No Five Year Plans, no Great Leap Forward. To be free is to paint a single brushstroke, wherever we please.
I have a friend suffering from a chronic illness. Despite the constant pain and debiliating psychological assault on well being, my friend worries about our country and what it means to defend our values.
My friend reached beyond herself. Like the athelete that performs beyond his abilities in the big game, my friend rejoiced in the first free election in Afghnistan, a country so far away, with secret tears of joy she never admitted to. My friend knows and understands what free choice means to average people. My friend understands what it means for people to be able to have a say in their own lives, irrespective of their choice of candidate, win or lose.
My friend selected her choice for President and her stand on the issues of the day with care, despite her current condition. The arguments defending her beliefs and choices were eloquently and passionately argued. Her small voice, and millions like her, chose not to be silent, but rather to participate.
I remember quite clearly, when I was in Eastern Europe before the Wall came down, how disenfranchised people were from participating in matters that affected them. Dreary, passionless and tired, those sad lives were reignited with the fire of freedom when the chance to participate was a possibility.
My friend values her freedom, so much so, that she participates, even when it would be easier not to.
Another friend, a speechwriter, is a true artist with words. From the unique perspective of a wordsmith, my friend clearly understands how words, carefully crafted, can convey a decidedly toxic message and make it palatable.
After working all day with words, it would be easy to succumb to someone else's efforts, just like everyone else. My friend chooses not to do that. Instead, my friend chooses to think, ponder and weigh issues- and despite an obvious facility with words, will not attempt to sway anyone in one directon or another, until the issues are clearly understood. Most extraorinarily, I think, my friend will not even do that. My friend wants people to think for themselves, make their own choices and not be spoon fed and not be part of crowd, simply agreeing so as to fit in.
Anyone can opine on any subject, of course. Simply having access to soapbox does not make opinions any more relevant, than does command of the English language. Issues need to be understood and digested, looked at from every angle.
All too often, we forget that. Opinions are thrown about without regard to veracity, or even real knowledge of the subject at hand. For example, I know someone who has studied the Middle East for decades. He can write a well researched, reasoned and measured article and is immediately excoriated by people who disagree with his point of view and see this as a justification for personal attack.
My speechwriter friend knows better than to ever do something like that, despite having the serious firepower to do just that.
Lastly, there are people whom I've come to know and respect, that take freedom seriously. They have wives, children and family responsibilities. We don't always agree and don't neccesarily see eye to eye on everything, but somehow we all speak the same language. I do wonder (and sometimes worry about) about the irrepresible and mildly insane NickyGoomba at times, but he makes me laugh, always.
BunkerMulligan, Paulie, John Adams, Nathan Hale and Capt Trevett over at The Commons, Sherry at Bittersweet, the ever thoughtful Marvin at LittleRedBlog, the research and incisive analysis icon that is Chrenkoff, Daisycutter,Pacetown and BrainShavings are all voices that have chosen to participate. Tom adds to the mix with interesting discussions and exchanges that challenge me, as does David of a Physicist's Perspective. Much to my delight, I no longer think of physicists as strange whack jobs.
There are many others on the Homespun blogroll who are no less a part of the mix. We don't all agree on many things and may even take issue with each other from time to time, but all in all, I'm lucky to be in such good company.
We are all small voices, participating in the free market place of thoughts and ideas, a marketplace ever growing.
Why did I write this? Because in free societies, there is no monolithic state voice. In free societies, there is a symphony of loud, cacaphonous voices, the sweetest sound ever known to the human spirit. In a free society, we willingly make room for variant voices.
In free societies, little voices matter. They are real heroes of free societies, irrespective of how they vote. The passion of those voices, inclusionists all, are the clarion call of free people.