Robert's Random Ravings

What is Freedom?

Here in the United States, we tend to take a lot of things for granted. For example, when we go to the grocery store, we expect it to be stocked with all of the food items that we like. When we go to the gas station, we expect there to be gas available. When we turn on our faucets at home, we expect clean, drinkable water to come out.

In many parts of the world, this would be considered luxury. I went to see Slumdog Millionaire yesterday. It is one of those movies that helps open your eyes to the way things are in other parts of the world. We think we know what poverty feels like here – but I don’t think that we even have a clue. The worst of us have it better than most people in countries like China, India, Zimbabwe, Sudan and Kenya.

We can walk outside on the street and expect to get from one place to another safely. We expect that our government will protect us. We don’t see our children being sold into slavery and forced to become beggars or prostitutes. Don’t get me wrong. I know it happens in the US as well, but not on the scale of other places in the world.

We get to tell the government that we don’t like what they are doing, without having to fear that as a result we will be thrown into prison, tortured and even killed. In Argentina in the 1970’s, talking against the government caused you to disappear. More recently, similar things have happened in Thailand, China, East Timor, Myanmar and Tibet, just to name a few countries.

Yes things are bad at the moment for a lot of people in the United States, but let’s not lose sight of how Good things still are here. I think it is time for our people to get off the island of protectionism and isolation that we like to live in and really participate in making the world a better place for EVERYONE, not just a select few.

We also need to make sure that the help we give goes to the people and not the corrupt governments that are strangling their own people just for “treasure.” Is there anything more traitorous than a national leadership that steals from its own people while they starve?


01/26/2009 - Posted by | General | , , , , , ,


  1. I don’t think the Western middle classes understand freedom in it’s true context. A western government raises income tax, and suddenly the right wing complains that our freedom is being eroded. And yet, there are areas of Africa in which people are watching their children dying because they cannot get the food, water or drugs needed to protect them. The Western World takes too much for granted. We have a huge amount of freedom.

    Slumdog Millionaire is one of the best films i’ve seen in a very long time.

    Comment by futiledemocracy | 01/26/2009 | Reply

    • There is a lot we don’t understand here. Movies like this are extremely important to open our eyes to different ways that people see their world. Constant Gardener was another one of those movies that I found to be eye-opening, as was the Kite Runner (though more so in the book).

      Also, I find that when you are invested in understanding people, it is hard for them to remain “enemies.”

      Comment by rkurzweil | 01/26/2009 | Reply

  2. I think your point is well taken about Americans not really understanding how well they do have it. It’s true the United States offers a quality of life that should not be taken for granted. You are a well traveled man and have seen first hand how other people live. Some with very little. Although many seem happy just to have the basics to live by, others are truly suffering. With no representation from their government, no medicines and no food or shelter. Without freedom, you are no more than a slave. I agree with you that all men and women should have the same rights, this includes the right to love who you wish to love. I am hopeful that with this new President we may truly be on the path to true freedom for all.

    Comment by Kathleen | 01/26/2009 | Reply

  3. I haven’t traveled all that much but my recent trip to Guatemala really hit home. Americans have things pretty easy and so many take what they have for granted. For those that can get away with using the system(s) do, while others that are working to make a difference, paying their taxes, carrying insurance, etc. can’t get assistance during the rough times.

    I feel it is a responsibility for each person to contribute to their own success; to their family (whether that be my blood or by choice); to their community; and to others that touch their lives. There is a universal plan and I’m here to do my part.

    Comment by Joanna | 01/28/2009 | Reply

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