Tag Archives | Colby Hess

What is Freedom?

Picture: Pascale Riby (CC)

There’s a great line from the film Easy Rider, where Dennis Hopper’s character, Billy, asks, “What the hell is wrong with freedom?  That’s what it’s all about,” and Jack Nicholson’s character, George, replies, “Oh, yeah, that’s right.  That’s what’s it’s all about, all right.  But talkin’ about it and bein’ it, that’s two different things… they’re gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom.  But they see a free individual, it’s gonna scare ‘em.”

Living in a post 9-11 world, where it’s normal for elderly grandmothers to be submitted to invasive pat-downs before boarding a flight, where peaceful protests are met by legions of armor-clad riot police, where tweets and Facebook postings are routinely tracked by Homeland Security, and where anyone looking vaguely Hispanic must carry government-issued ID with them at all times if they happen to be living in certain states, it seems pertinent to ask the simple question, “What is freedom?”

If you look up its meaning in a dictionary, you’ll generally find something along the lines of, “exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.; the power to determine action without restraint.”  That doesn’t seem like something that should require a PhD in philosophy or political science to make sense of, yet what does it really mean for everyday people living everyday lives in a country that proudly brands itself as the “land of the free”?  How does this concept guide and shape our thoughts, our actions, our beliefs and our society?… Read the rest

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