Freedom Isn’t Free

Freedom Isn’t Free. But That’s No Excuse.

I see that bumper sticker a lot, minus the part about it not being an excuse. I’m not even sure what it means really. Freedom isn’t free, yes, but neither is a pen. In fact almost all things come with a price. So Freedom is not special there.

So is freedom special? Hell yes. But not all freedom comes at a cost. I would wager that freedom does not come as a by-product of war, but it is often threatened by war. So Freedom is not always gained by war, but instead threatened by it.

Freedom is also hard to define. I’m not saying we don’t know what it means but it does not have only one meaning. It can be and is defined by Webster as not enslaved or imprisoned. That is not a very fun definition. Meaning that if that is all freedom is, even most nations at war are free.

Webster also defines it as not being the subject of foreign power. That is an interesting way to see it. We ruled over Japan after WWII for many years, but the Japanese people I would say were free. I would not say Poland was after WWII.

Webster also defines freedom as the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. If that definition is used I would say almost no one is free. We cannot yell FIRE in a theater in the US. That is illegal. We cannot act as we choose without restraint, or a few people in my past would have a different idea about me. So freedom is not a clear cut thing.

I am playing Columbo here and pretending to not know what is meant by the bumper sticker that says “Freedom isn’t Free”. I know it means you have to fight for it. Yes sometimes we do. But careful where you aim that claim.

The reason I am posting is simple. I know we must fight the good fight. I know we need to fight back when attacked. I am proud how men and women enlisted after 9/11. But I also urge caution when this phrase is used to excuse attacking those we think may threaten us, or burns our flag in protest, or hates us! We seem to hate half the world but would cry foul if all those who we hate attacked us.

We have to trust politicians to know when we need to send our military abroad. That’s a tough sell. But I will say this, if we went to war every time some people wanted to, we would be at war all the time and many of us would likely be dead. Freedom isn’t free. I get that. But I do wonder what bill that person with that bumper sticker is willing to pay when their freedom really isn’t threatened, but they are feeling disrespected.

Imagine people in a Middle Eastern nation burning the American flag and carrying signs reading, “Down with USA”. Or better yet, “Americans must die”. Do you feel threatened? I could understand if people do. I don’t. They are far, far away. The nation likely has no way of projecting a force across an ocean to us. And these scenes may be but a couple examples of people in the nation protesting. Only taking place on three streets in the capital city, but everywhere else people are working and playing Frisbee golf. How threatened do you feel now?

Again, freedom isn’t free, but who is the threat? Most in this nation will fight for the right fight. But how much fighting must we do??? How free are we if we are constantly fighting? Our soldiers fight because they chose to be soldiers. Our politicians choose who they fight, when they fight and where they fight. Who they fight for is up to them. What we get as a result is hopefully a reduced threat to someone. Not always us.

The person on the other end of every gun is loved by someone. Someone misses them and worries about them. They may be carrying a gun because others came to their nation with guns. Ever heard the contradictory but so accurate exchange between a Police officer and suspect; “Why were you running? Cause you were chasing me. Why were you chasing me? Cause you were running.”Which came first the chicken or the egg? Which is the threat, the soldier in a foreign land to suppress a far away perceived threat or the person in their home in that far away land who has no idea what the fight is about but is trying to defend their home?

I will say most of the recent wars the US has fought I agreed with or understood. The Iraq war is an exception. I will also say many were not a threat to us at all. We were in Somalia. I am glad we tried. We were in Yugoslavia I think for the right reasons. There could be arguments made that we lost both of those engagements. Both of those were no threat to us but we were there defending other people and their freedom. I’m fine with that as long as we understand what were doing with a clear goal and an exit plan.
I know that freedom is not free, but it is not an excuse to attack anyone we feel disrespected by.

The example I used of the flag and signs, those people are likely no threat at all. Burning our flag is legal in our own nation much less in others. Most don’t know this but the proper way to dispose of a warn out flag is to burn it. But we also have the right to burn it in protest. Call me names if you like for supporting that right but if you want to kill people for burning a flag, then there are many accurate names that could be used for you and none are nice.  I’d start with murderer and it goes down hill form there.

My answer to Freedom Isn’t Free is, Neither are Wars. My hope is that those who have that bumper sticker know that it cannot be an excuse to go to war because you feel “dissed”. No one’s child needs to die for anyone’s feelings, even a child of another nation.

I have another answer to Freedom Isn’t Free. “Duh”.


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