What Freedom Means to Me

April 21, 2014

By Bob Cox

Some opinions, comments and links relating to what is happening in this great nation and, in particular, in Western Colorado.


It is not my intention in these missives to give lessons in history or literature, but I think both topics are relevant to a recent discussion started by the readers of my periodic objurgations and by other friends with which I closely associate.


The topic is freedom. Many years ago I wrote and delivered a short speech on what I thought freedom really is. Without getting too deep into the background of 18th Century novelist Daniel Defoe, suffice it to say that I think he touched on the concept of freedom, or the lack thereof, rather well in his novel Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, which originally had a much, much longer title. The book was so well written that many readers actually believed it to have been written by Crusoe, who of course was a totally fictional character.


For those who have not had the pleasure of reading the novel, Crusoe was the sole survivor of a shipwreck, which placed him on a deserted island to fend for himself. He was able to procure a substantial amount of support supplies from the wrecked ship. He built shelter and became efficient in the use of the wildlife and flora of the island to sustain his wellbeing. He had total freedom. He was neither dependent on anyone else nor had anyone dependent upon him. He slept when he wanted, ate what he wanted and chose his daily activities based only on what he needed for survival. There were no laws, no regulations and nobody to impose any laws or regulations.


For several years Crusoe was content and could even be described as comfortable. In the words of the novel: “…I was removed from all the wickedness of the world here; I had neither the lust of the flesh, the lusts of the eye or the pride of life. I had nothing to covet, for I had all that I was now capable of enjoying…”


Then, the world around him changed. He became aware of a group of cannibals who were routinely bringing their captives to the island, performing a rather gory ritual, and then killing them and eating their flesh. The activity did not overtly take any of Crusoe’s freedoms away, but it threatened to do so. He immediately took steps to defend his life and his possessions. He lost freedom, not because someone took it, but because he chose to give up some of it by rationalizing the need to do so to survive. Consequently, he was no longer a truly free man. He even contemplated the possibility of going to war with the cannibals. He planned surprise attacks and weighed the probable outcomes. He started to ration his gunpowder and hoard provisions.


The real game changer came when Crusoe managed to rescue a young man that was destined to become dinner for the savage group. He named his new companion, who actually became a slave, Friday. And then there were two. No longer could Crusoe sleep where he wanted or eat when he wanted. While he used Friday as a slave, he still had to adjust his life in order to accommodate the extra citizenry of his compound. His freedom was diminished even more. He was no longer the sole occupant of his realm. He had responsibilities. He had to make rules and see to it that Friday followed those rules. In the process he was also required to follow his own rules.


So, that is a brief explanation of how I have always looked at freedom. I have always been able to justify what it takes to preserve what freedom we have, based not on the fact that our freedom is actually being taken from us, but rather on the fact that someone, some organization or some government is merely threatening to take away all or part of our freedom. I believe that we, as individuals, or as a nation, cannot afford to be perceived as weak. Doing so invites others to use our island for their own pleasures. I believe that the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the attack of 9-11 are two prime examples of that concept. I also believe that the response to those incidents was warranted and that the idea that we can defeat our enemies on their soil rather than ours is not an all-bad idea.


All that being said, I became friends with a couple who gave me an even greater appreciation for freedom. They once told me that I, and most Americans for that matter, could never really appreciate what freedom is because we have never lived without it. Most of us, while we are quick to defend our freedoms do not fully realize what those freedoms are. We have not lived in a totalitarian society in which we have no real freedom. That admonition makes my justifications for the defense of freedom much more difficult. It makes me realize more than ever that none of us are totally free, but it also strengthens my resolve to keep what we have. I have no desire to live without the American way of life, just so I can fully realize how lucky I was before I gave it up.


Robinson Crusoe was ultimately rescued and returned to his native land where he quickly realized that the “rescue” was not all it was cracked up to be. We need to be wary of those who are telling us that they are here to “rescue” us. They may only be trying to place us where we are under more control. They may only be telling us that they want to control us. They may only be threatening our freedom, but we must be diligent in our reasoning as to why they want to “help” us so much.


Remember, I only send out these missives to those who have asked for them. I do not share your email addresses with anyone and I use the Reagan email precisely because they don’t share or sell the addresses either. If you are getting this because someone forwarded it to you and you don’t want it, tell him or her not to forward any more. On the other hand, if you received a copy and would like to see more of my ranting, simply drop me a line at coxnotes@Reagan.com I will put you on my exclusive, but growing list.



© Robert R. Cox 2014



















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