Thursday, July 29, 2010

Freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose

I saw something through a non-political blog that at first had me thinking one way and then reassessing which led to deciding to write on the topic of security.

It is a ranch site where the lady has many animals she clearly loves and takes care of in the best possible way. Her whole blog really is about the personality of those animals-- 2 burros, 1 horse, 1 pot-bellied pig, 3 chickens (and was another horse and goat which died after I began reading the site); plus 3 house cats, 1 dog and 1 black barn cat.

Now that barn cat had a personality that made him absolutely a favorite to read about but all along I worried because her little ranch is on the edge of wilderness in New Mexico and coyote packs also live there. The burros chase the coyotes off and once before did so before the coyotes could get the cat which their person captured in a photo sequence, but I knew the way this works and sometime that cat was going be out there and get got. It's the way of nature. I hate getting attached to my own animals, when I face their loss, let alone reading about someone else's and then feeling bad when they die; but I kept reading. And then...

Yep, cat has been gone for a few days; and although I know it's possible it will return, it is also possible it was killed when out hunting beyond the safety of the immediate barns and fences. It was free. It could go where it would. If she had kept it in the house, like her other three cats, at least at night, it might still be alive although maybe not. The thing was that cat wanted to be outside. It wanted to be free. Its personality would not have been the same if it was trapped inside for 'safety.'

And that's what led to my own thoughts on what is happening in our culture and really in all cultures as they progress through stages. IF you demand safety, security, want all problems taken care of for you, avoid all risks, you might live a longer life but will you care?

Some blame this all on the government (the ultimate boogie man for right and left) but government is a tool of the people unless it reaches dictatorship levels (something all people should watch out for no matter which faction is in power). Government does what people ask it to do and so it monitors this or that. It guarantees its value to citizens by offering programs to fix problems  and then along with that come the regulations.

Is it better to have a long life lived totally safely or better to recognize freedom has value also when assessing quality of living? How much freedom can we have in a culture that has increasing numbers of people living in ever tighter circles? Some admire Singapore for the orderliness of their lives, well that comes at a price of freedom.

This country gave up a lot of freedoms after 9/11 supposedly to keep ourselves safer. Airplanes became hassles to ride with taking off our shoes, going through many and sometimes random security checks. This all even though the first attacks happened because there weren't secure cockpit doors.

We gave up the right to a speedy trial if we were accused of being a terrorist on the government's say-so. (Guess we figured we'd never be accused of that one and didn't care if the other guy was.)  We accepted that some people might be tortured to secure our safety. We ran into more border restrictions (like having to have a passport to go to Canada and get back) and we accepted it all for 'security'.

We do this with all kinds of things, what kind of food we can buy, where our driveways can go, how fast we can drive, where we can build a house, what medicines we can take, helmets on a motorcycle, the list goes on and on with licenses and permits. All to keep us safer and, of course, pay for those regulations.

Some of this is what people are now rebelling against. With this concern for safety and protection, none of the people who originally settled this nation nor the ones who went west to make new homes, none of that would have happened because it definitely wasn't safe.

When did safety become the main thing? Government does sell us on its importance as it makes itself bigger and bigger to deliver that security, some that our neighbor wanted, some maybe we wanted but we didn't know how far it would go.

Don't bother telling me this is the fault of Democrats. Republicans would limit who can get married to who, birth control, what form of sex you can have, what you can watch for entertainment, suicide for the dying, etc. Both parties are into this game but just for different things. Yes, Republicans would take away financial and banking regulations, but then who does that benefit? See the thing is we count on government to do some things like say food inspection before something can be in our grocery stores, don't we? Do we trust the store or processor to do that without knowing government has regulations and oversight?

Where does it stop being a benefit though and instead is handicapping us?  I see the value in certain things that only government can do and recognize that when we live closer together, we cannot live as when we are more spread out. Still it seems to me that government does have a way of reaching strangulation proportions if it isn't watched. There is an old saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Now that cat might come back yet. But if he was killed, it was while doing what he wanted to do. His owner, who obviously cared for him a lot gave him that gift. He was free. But freedom isn't without cost.

Freedoms just another word for nothin' left to lose
Nothin' don't mean nothin' if it ain't free
from Bobby McGee


Kay Dennison said...

Indeed!!!! I agree with you completely! There's a limit to how much "nannying" we should accept.

wally said...

The blogger’s black cat had the run of the place and all it’s previous experience and knowledge led it to believe that life would always be the way it had been before. So one day it confidently wandered into the dark woods and met something that was beyond it’s ability to cope. It reminds me of a book I read, “The Black Swan, The Impact of the Highly Improbable”. The author tells the story of a turkey who lives for a thousand days. It is fed by the farmer every day. Each feeding reinforces the belief that it will always be fed my a member of the human race “looking out for it’s best interests“. Then the day before Thanksgiving the farmer shows up with an axe.
Those of us who grew up during the 50’s and 60’s, like the turkey, learned things we thought would always be true. That our homes would always increase in value and be a source of wealth. That our jobs would always be secure, our wages would increase over time, and there would be a pension waiting for us at the end of our careers. And that the people we elected to protect the American Dream for us would always act “in our best interests.”
I’ve always wondered what life was like for that generation that came of age on the east side of the Berlin Wall. They weren’t allowed to enjoy the freedoms of those on the west side of the wall, but surely they were able to find life partners, have children, and experience some joy in the everyday of life. I’ve read that when the wall came down many people were frustrated at the thought finding their own job instead of one the government provided for them, or having to find their own housing instead of having it assigned to them by the Politburo. So there was a certain security for them in living without freedom.
Japan calls the years of the 1990’s the Lost Decade. That country was rolling along with an expanding economy until it imploded . The circumstances that caused the economic downturn for Japan are similar to what we are seeing in our own country today.
The Japanese are traditionally a frugal people and that mitigated the effects of the downturn on everyday life. But, here in America conspicuous consumption is a way of life and if our economy continues to plummet the perceived quality of life for many people will also plummet.
In my opinion freedom and security are illusory. We are all like the turkey. We live our lives according to the knowledge we have and the lessons of past experience not even dreaming that there may be something we are unaware of and incapable of discovering that will do us in. We yearn for certainty but meet vicissitude.
I always go back to Alan Watts who said: "But tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live. There is no other reality than present reality, so that, even if one were to live for endless ages, to live for the future would be to miss the point everlastingly."

Rain said...

You said it well, Wally. We have to plan for the future in responsible ways and yet know the whole world may shift and it won't be what we expect. Even supposed security gotten at the price of giving up all freedoms could not really be guaranteed.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Back when we had the big Savings and Loan crisis, and a huge hit to the economy, I recall watching a public forum hosted by Bill Moyers. Something one woman said summed it all up for me; in discussing if the Savings and Loans should be bailed out, she said: "I don't thing the Taxpayer ought to pay for it, the Government should pay for it.

I have run into this same kind of thinking disconnect when I was a Welfare Worker for the State of Oregon. People are happy to help "the poor" but they are down on "Welfare recipients". Hello... the difference is what, exactly?

I was on the board of an HOA (Home owners association). Invariably people wanted the rules enforced strictly against the other neighbor, but if THEY themselves were the focus, well then they wanted the HOA to be lenient.

The problem is that unless a problem is affecting someone personally, the issue is purely academic. Take the Unemployment Extension deliberation, for example; yes, nobody wants to increase the deficit, but if YOU are the unemployed person and need to pay your rent and utilities, all of a sudden the question is not a hypothetical one.

We don't know what we want, is the reality. We want government out of our lives. Then an oil leak happens and suddenly we are all yelling "Where's the government?" It's a tough question about a moving target. No black and white answers anywhere to be found.

cj said...

Wait - you don't really think September 11th happened because of unlocked cockpit doors, do you?

It happened because of a lapse of security, starting with allowing the terrorists to come into this country to train how to fly planes but not land them, and it ended with those people, armed with box cutters, being able to take over the planes.

The doors were just the last step. I'm sorry you find it so difficult to fly and the fact that you need to take your shoes off so burdening.


Rain said...

cj, i did not say it was the only thing that let it happen. I said with secure cockpit doors, which some had advocated for a long time, they could not have taken over the planes and flown them into the Towers or the Pentagon. They could still blow up a plane, which they still can today and while taking off your shoes might make you feel more secure, it shouldn't as there are many ways to blow up a plane but this particular blog wasn't about that topic, was it...