50 Ways to Leave Your Freedom
(or How to Lose Your Freedom in 10 Days)
Freedom…we talk about it often.
It is also a commodity most Americans have always experienced. Americans may even take freedom for granted. We’ve not experienced horrific oppression or living as serfs with overlords. It’s easy to recognize the peasant – lord or king – subject dynamic.
But, could we recognize freedom being slowly whittled away from us?
We saw how easy it was for movie star, Kate Hudson, to lose her boyfriend in a recent movie, “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”. After luring a boyfriend, she slowly destroyed their relationship over the course of ten days.
Prior to that, pop icon, Paul Simon, sang his wonderfully rhyming song to us throughout the ’70’s: “I’d like to help you in your struggle…There must be 50 ways to leave your lover”. His hit song, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”, spoke of how easy it is to leave a lover.
But, what plays out in America is how easy it is to lose freedom. Whether by those desiring power or well-meaning intentions, little pieces of freedom can be easily taken, because we are so accustomed to counting on it.
But I’ll repeat myself at the risk of being crude
There must be 50 ways to leave your lover”
You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy…just listen to me -Paul Simon
Need Versus Freedom
Human need sometimes leads to desperate cries for help. At one time, it was easy for a benevolent king to promise to take care of his subjects. The king’s loyal subjects paid for his care with obedience. When loyal subjects thought the king was not doing enough for them, they revolted and got a new king to take care of them. Despite their efforts, they were constantly met with a ruler, who expected them to live up to his idea of generosity.
With America came the end of that ruler-loyal subject relationship. But, human need still cries for help. When help comes from a generous hand or charity, no strings attach. When help comes from government, a different bond forms. That bond includes a “vote for me and I’ll be generous with you” (also known as bribery) and it includes a “if you want this generosity, you have to do what I tell you” (a loss of freedom). Human need is very real and needing help isn’t a bad thing. We need to understand the relationship created under the label of help.
It becomes easy to exchange security for a small amount of freedom.
Bustle Versus Freedom
Colonial life involved producing food, making a living, raising a family, building a community, churches and schools andrunning government. The basics of life required the efforts of all hands. Community building and running the government were all volunteer efforts.
Current American life sees many basic needs placed into the hands of others. With larger entities providing for these needs, American lives made room for other activities. Days are packed with career, family, sports, hobbies, community-church-children’s activities and entertainment.
As Americans have become more involved with other interests, time to fulfill our duty to manage government falls to the wayside. Our Constitution’s requirement for citizens to run the government and manage our elected representatives became neglected by many citizens, because of busy lives.
While it isn’t bad for us to have busy lives or to develop numerous priorities, we cannot ignore citizenship requirements for too long without consequences.
It becomes easy to leave government work to others, trading other pursuits for a bit of our freedom.
Hype Versus Freedom
It is said that American elections are now won with slogans, one-liners, and smears of opponents saturating media. Candidates win elections without outlining their policies and explaining their stances.
Campaign history tells of lengthy pamphlets distributed by hand or slow postal delivery to guide votes in America’s early history. Citizens counted on media for in-depth bios and basic policy descriptions on all candidates. And, they read every detail to know their candidates.
By contrast, not all modern candidates bother to communicate policies and stances until pressed for them. Main media did not always cover policies in detail. Candidates with detailed policies on their websites experienced low website traffic, indicating few bothered to read policy information some candidates did provide.
Catchy ads and slogans will always be more enjoyable than reading through boring policy. Not performing the due diligence our citizenship and Constitution requires leaves us unaware and also lets our candidates avoid their responsibilities to us.
It becomes easy to avoid the effort to vet candidates and risk a little freedom.
Disinterest Versus Freedom
Despite travel, weather and literacy challenges, Americans from bygone days voted.
From 1836 to 1900, more than 80% of eligible voters exercised their right to vote. By contrast, other than spikes under 65% in the 1940’s, 1960’s, 1972, and 1980’s, 1992, 2008 and 2016, voter turn-out has been under 60% of eligible voters in modern history for presidential election years and lower for mid-term elections. This is true even with the aids of extended voting hours, modern transportation, more polling areas and absentee ballots. The number of eligible voters has increased tremendously, but interest in voting has decreased, based on the percentages of those voting.
Our ancestors were also engaged in government. They wrote, visited, got involved, as part of their lives. Quick polls of current citizens find that Americans tend to think that once they vote, their job is done. They leave their representatives with no communication with only a few exceptions. A common mantra is “I have no interest in politics”, even though government affects nearly every aspect of their lives.
The choice to let others contact our representatives sounds like an easier path, until we realize that those who ARE contacting our representatives regularly may not have our best interests as their goal.
It becomes easy to let apathy steal part of our freedom.
From charters to a confederacy and then a republic, America needed war and hard work to achieve freedom. Before America, a guide to freedom did not exist. Since then, other nations used America as their guide. However, the only guide to keep freedom is what started it, the Constitution and our Founders’ wisdom in The Founding Principles. The Constitution gives citizens the sole power to protect their freedom. It is up to us to recognize threats to our freedom, even if the threats seem well-intentioned or seem harmless, and to keep it.
When we’ve always known freedom, giving up little pieces of it sounds safe. Plus, it requires time and effort and who has extra energy or time? But, will we know when we’ve left it unprotected too long? As anyone who has lost freedom can tell you: Losing freedom is easy…regaining it is hard.
Unlike the movie, Americans aren’t likely to lose anything, even freedom, in 10 days. But, unlike the song, it may not take 50 ways for Americans to lose their freedom.
Whether by trustfulness or negligence, freedom can be easily lost, when we take it for granted.
And then she kissed me and I realized she probably was right
There must be 50 ways to leave your lover
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Drop off the key, Lee…just listen to me – Paul Simon
http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-voter-turnout-records-history-obama-clinton-2016-11 http://www.eiu.edu/eiutps/campaigns.php http://time.com/4471657/political-tv-ads-history/ Political Communication in American Campaigns by Joseph S. Tuman http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/presidential-election-facts http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/presidential-election-facts http://lyrics.wikia.com/wiki/Paul_Simon:50_Ways_To_Leave_Your_Lover http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0251127/