Do Americans value freedom?
Previously published on February 20, 2008
With the United States tangled in a struggle against globalized terrorism and the post-Cold War world continuing to ideologically emblazon democracy as synonymous with freedom, questioning whether or not freedom is an absolute necessity to life is nearly heresy. Quite frankly, such a question is brilliant as it casts doubt upon a doctrine that has been handed down to the Nation by generation after generation of Americans who failed to fully appreciate the idea of freedom. No one can truly appreciate the concept of freedom until he or she is forced to define it for his or her generation.
Political ideologies and social justice require a constant affirmation by the people who would embrace their government and its vision of freedom. Our forefathers understood true freedom is not guaranteed for those who have the power to exercise their free will, but rather, those who are able to participate in a government that struggles to maintain a balance between personal freedoms and the protection of those rights for every citizen. It was not until recent history that women and minorities were truly given the freedoms, which wealthy, white-male landowners were granted at the beginning of this Nation; therefore, our Nation has never truly understood the concept of freedom. As such, it is imperative that every generation define and re-indoctrinate the concept of freedom back into the American culture.
Furthermore, America has never attempted to grant government or citizens absolute freedoms as this Nation is a republic of representative democracies, not a state of anarchy that fails to ensure its citizens' freedoms. Providing citizens their rights and freedoms has been a constant process that seeks to balance the rights of all individuals with the responsibility of government service and citizenship. Although our Country has not always given deserving people the rights they are due, our system of government was designed to grow and expand. Moreover, America has broadened the scope of freedom to those who previously went without while it continually functions to define the rights of citizens.
In the beginning of the Nation, the Constitution focused little on the freedoms of the citizens, which only included a select group. As history unfolded, the Legislator and the Courts worked toward giving non-property owners, the poor, minorities, and women freedoms that were more equal to the freedoms of the established aristocrats. In tandem, many white males, who belong to a higher social economic class, often feel their rights have become more restricted and freedom is on the decline. Truthfully, many of these feelings are valid as their "freedoms" have been truncated by the emerging freedoms of women and minorities; however, this is due to the fact that many of these rights did not belong to these people. In order to guarantee the continuing freedoms of all, the Constitution set in motion a process that focused on giving everyone the same freedoms.
Instead of absolute freedom, the ruling class in America chose to divide freedoms among all citizens, thus creating a system that seeks to guarantee equal freedom to all citizens. In essence, many Americans, who have traditional enjoyed a majority status and the freedoms, which inherently exist for that classification, are feeling a redistribution of power to those citizens who originally had little to none. Moreover, the idea of freedom is in continue flux as it needs to be constantly rebalanced with the State's interest in serving the people.
With the passing threat of the Cold War and the looping danger of global terrorism, our Nation continues to be faced with some very complicated problems. For those who must protect our people, truncating the freedoms of all American citizens is a matter of necessity while those who understand the significance of freedom view the limitation of any freedom to be a violation of the highest American principles supported by a history of sacrifice by Americans. However, the US Constitution and the success of America have always required a more balanced approach. In creating legislation, which aims to protect Americans, Legislators must seek to limit freedoms to the point that allows for the greatest amount of an individual's freedom and the greatest amount of security.
Moreover, no American has ever been or will ever be granted the right to take away another American's freedoms while the power to self-govern cannot be taken away from the people; otherwise, freedom and America are dead. Without a clear understanding on the concept of freedom, individuals cannot comprehend the significance of freedom nor can they protect their freedoms. Every generation must define the concept of freedom, but they must also strive to define freedoms in way that guarantees freedom will continue to exist for the current generation and the next.