I remember a graph from my political science days which had security on one axis (low to high) and freedom on the other (low to high). As security increases, freedoms necessarily decrease and vice versa. I was thinking of this as I read that President Obama will sign the Levin/McCain detention bill into law. This is yet another disappointing example of where we seem to value security far more than our freedoms. It makes no sense to me. We are a nation built on freedoms and established in part to get away from persecution without a trial. And yet here we are making laws that allow for just that very thing, all in the name of security.
It seems to me that these kinds of laws are victories for those who oppose the freedoms that we have. I’m really starting to get sick of this. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’d prefer a more reasonable balance between security and freedom. We encounter risks every day we are alive. I for one would prefer to live in a world where the risks for my personal security might be higher if that means more personal freedom. It seems that we are slowly evolving to a world which looks gloomily dystopian. I wouldn’t want to live in such a world. Maybe it won’t come to that in my lifetime, but I wouldn’t want my kids to have to live in such a restrictive, paranoid, and backwards world either.
It’s one thing to be vigilant about security. It’s quite another to cough up hard-earned freedoms without so much as a cry of despair. Indeed, it seems to me that more an more we give up these freedoms willingly, gladly, and will continue to do so until the day we realize we’ve given up everything we’ve ever valued and find it very difficult to get them back. We are becoming, much like our politicians, a nation of cowards, afraid of our own shadow and its horrifying to watch.
Maybe New Hampshire’s got it right: Live free or die.