Cost of Freedom?

If democracy in the Middle East costs this much more at the gas pump, are we still pro-democracy?

I typed but failed to post this question a week ago today.  Rachel, Eliza and I were on vacation in New Mexico.  I was overall successful at leaving my e-world behind for the week, other than a few check-ins and photos posted to Facebook.

I’ve heard many times in the past decade that “freedom isn’t free.”  Usually people have said this to defend US America sending troops into other countries.  Currently the reference might better refer to the price of gas for us depending on the stability of Middle Eastern countries.  What makes this sticky is that stability is juxtaposed to popular uprisings against “stable” dictators.

Now, I read in this morning’s paper that citizens don’t like the gas prices, that are, I think I recall, 73¢ per gallon higher than they were a month ago.  Some are “blaming” the Middle East. Some are blaming Obama. (to be fair, the article’s secondary headline said they are blaming Obama; the article itself said they are blaming the president and congress)

Why the blame?  Aren’t we a nation of market-driveness?  Didn’t the collective voice of the 2010 elections say that if US America wants anything it is less government and therefore less government involvement in our lives?

Except (or until) something affects us directly in our pocketbooks or checking accounts.  We want, and expect our freedom to be protected.

No matter what it costs-someone else?

Which brings me back to that oft-quoted “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  It is almost always quoted like this – which is horribly out of context.  Right before these words of Jesus he says “If you continue as my disciples, then you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

It’s a pretty big “if.”

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2 thoughts on “Cost of Freedom?

  1. I’d think that any form of government – or lack thereof – would have costs, i.e., not be free.

    In the immediate case of sky-rocketing gas prices, it’s not so much that we’re seeing the cost of democracy as the cost of trying to move in a more democratic direction. If there is a necessary and direction connection between higher gas prices and people of other countries having more responsive, just, fair, etc., then I think it is worth my while to pay more for gas. Of course, some of the countries we note as being “unfree” these days – I think of Iran and Venezuela in particular – are known for spending their resources on things that do not bode well for them continuing or expanding their oil industries.

    We’ll see.

  2. There are those that say there is no such thing as altruism … and to a certain degree, I agree with them. As a Christian, I believe that we need a Savior precisely because we are otherwise unable to transcend our own selfish interests. As someone who is merely attempting to “go on to perfection”, rather than have achieved it, I don’t always transcend myself even then.

    I don’t particularly EXPECT the American public to transcend self-interest. Only a small percentage of Americans practice any kind of religious faith, much less take it seriously enough to put it into DAILY practice. I think the most good is done when the case can be made to people that doing the right thing is also in their own best interests.

    A few weeks ago, a colleague and I were discussing our disgust and distress at how MEAN people in the workplace can be. It is distressing … and it is also stupid (of the mean people). Being unkind/cruel/demeaning/destructive to others always comes back to bite you in the hynie (Is that how you spell it????) …

    Since nations are made up ultimately of individuals (with those middle institutions Richard has been writing about upon occasion, mediating between the individual and the nation as a whole) … and because we Americans have notoriously short attention spans (Ritalin in the water supply, anyone?) … our leaders would do well to regularly remind us how doing the right thing in various domains is in our own best interest.

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