The Responsibility of Freedom

Bob Dylan finally accepted his Nobel Prize

Quote of the Week:  I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom. –Bob Dylan

Freedom is not supposed to be easy.  It is not a gift.  Freedom is a responsibility; the responsibility to take part, actively, in the government of man and society, and in the amelioration of the evils and inequalities that surround us.  Freedom is the responsibility to understand what power is, who wields it, and how to take it for yourself and empower yourself and those around you to protect our mutual community, our resources, and our rights.  Freedom does not mean sitting idly by while hoping the government keeps off your back; freedom means being a governing power in and of yourself, being a politician as well as a private citizen, and respecting others’ rights and responsibilities to do the same.  Freedom is work; hard work.  If you think you do not have the time to do this, because you work for a living and have a family to take care of, imagine how you would work for a living and take care of your family if others came and took all your rights away – your rights to do the very things that you say keep you from being an actively engaged citizen.

The increasing divide in our political system is in part a result (among frankly many other things as well) of citizens ceasing to be citizens, preferring simply to be private people with no need to engage politically.  This is in part how we let political parties control our conversation, extremist politicians move us away from the center and from consensus, corporations to take our power and voices away while paying the government for the right to disenfranchise us.

Freedom means being an adult; taking time out of your busy day to understand that it is up to you – yes, YOU – to make our society better, our government better, our laws better, our corporations better, our community better.  It is a lot of work, and takes time that you could use to relax with your family and friends, and to watch television.  Just imagine how relaxing it is to live in a dictatorship, how relaxing it is to wonder if your neighbor overheard your innocuous snarky comment and is now informing on you to the secret police, how relaxing were the Holocaust and the Soviet purges – mass slaughters that devoured millions of non-political, private people who just wanted to be left alone by their government.  Being an adult is not about relaxing; it is about facing your responsibilities and moving forward.  Freedom expands those responsibilities to include being aware, active, and engaged in politics and in power.

Headline image of Bob Dylan by Getty Images, used in RTE, “Things have changed. Bob Dylan finally accepts Nobel Prize,” updated 3 April 2017.

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