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Freedom USA:2014

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By Tommy Foster
Fx2 Farm
Bedford County

    The freedoms we all know from high school civics and government class include: freedom to assemble, to have a free press, to practice the religion of our choice, to speak out in the public square, to own guns, to associate with other persons, to work for whoever we wish, to attend a school, college, or university of our choice, to petition a court for settlement of grievances with individuals, institutions and government, to own property, to travel freely within our borders without identity papers, to buy and sell in commerce, to marry, divorce and have association, to procreate, to have opinions different from other people, to dress as we wish, to write essays, articles, and books critical of government (local, state and national). We Americans celebrate these freedoms to a high degree and hold them as a mantra of our way of life.
    Less well known are the following: freedom to retain prejudice, freedom to refrain from liberating education, freedom to harbor ignorance, freedom to ignore progress, freedom to ignore change, freedom to ignore scientific findings, freedom to be in bad health, freedom to engage in self frustrating behavior, freedom to be taken in by fraud, freedom to live in cloistered communities, freedom from literacy, freedom to spend your money where ever you want, freedom to refrain from exposure to sources of information, freedom to join groups that harbor obsolete views, freedom to pay others for debilitating errors and mistakes brought on by failure to know the rules, laws, procedures, and protocols, freedom to speak out without bothering to find facts, freedom to ignore facts and express emotions, freedom to be caught up in a web of misinformation regarding healthy habits, personal safety, and risky behavior, freedom to ignore the lessons of history, freedom to bypass the great literary minds of the last 1000 years, freedom to ignore the physics and math of Galileo, Newton, Descartes, Einstein, Bohr etc., freedom to ignore the geological record stored in rock formations, freedom to ignore the DNA record stored in living creatures, freedom to follow,  contribute and believe the doctrines of ill informed shamans, witch doctors, voodoo  practitioners, and astrologers; freedom to drink the ‘kool-aid’ of Jim Jones of Guyana fame, freedom to be ill informed and to trust non-vetted sources for guidance, freedom to send as much money as you want to the IRS or to pay money to the Treasury to reduce the national debt. In other words, freedom to fail and take others with you as you go. (As a country song says “freedom is not free” it comes with a high cost.) (As KKristopherson penned “Freedom just another word for nothing left to lose”.)
    And even less well known are our Obligations: to be literate, to read books, literature, poetry, law, history, to find information and knowledge wherever it resides, to criticize the source, the content, and medium of information, to sort data into information and information into intelligence, to find the best minds and leadership and test their theories, points of view and process and be ready to abandon failure and evaluate progress with the sharp edge of logic, results and common sense, to read between the lines and see the opportunities that repression seeks to deny, to see the logic of a free society and the demand that laws of reciprocity and fair play, fair markets and fair pricing are natural consequences of sustainability, national progress, world peace and individual self worth and motivation, to have an eye and mind for deciphering Orwell-identified language perversions, to have a keen sense of inquiry directed to politician’s behavioral, philosophical, theological, and institutional bias. to respect and treat others with civility and argue for them to present responsible non-interfering behavior, to promote the self development of the individual so that dependency, co-dependency and enablement is brought to a halt; to seek value for money and time spent, to identify worthwhile projects and activities that have reasonable return for effort, to identify the fallacies, flaws and falsities of schemes that appear to be “too good to be true”, to know your own prejudices and be willing to subject them to challenge and fair criticism. In other words, to be an inquiry-driven individual.
    As this 2013 year ends it is the writer’s view that as our first freedoms appear to be under attack it is the obligations conveyed by a free society that are worthy of addressing.