This I Believe

Andrew - Tacoma, Washington
Entered on July 18, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in freedom. I say this, however, needing to explain a lot about what I mean in saying the word. This is because I also believe there are many ideas of “freedom.” Freedom can be a powerful word in politics and rhetoric. George W. Bush used this word or variations of it 49 times in his Inaugural speech in 2005 and quite effectively. I mean, come on, who doesn’t like freedom? However, it is important to note that your idea of “freedom” might be different than mine. I respect that, but I do not respect pure denial without understanding of a person’s framework. Our problem is that most Americans don’t take the time to understand what a person means when they say “freedom.”

Take the typical idea of freedom of speech. This freedom is not as simple as one might think. For a stereotypical conservative, personal freedoms cannot jeopardize the safety of America. This is where the some conservatives’ framework of freedom will stop. So if I make a phone saying I wish the pentagon would blow up, this call would be tagged and I might face criminal accusations. Luckily I don’t plan to do this ever, but it does bring up an interesting tension of freedom of speech. Even though I disagree with this conservative argument, I do not simply deny it. Instead I seek to understand it.

Being a progressive, I see many liberals fail to do this part. Most liberals see George W Bush’s or other conservatives’ arguments about freedom with a sense of hypocritical. They think, “How can they possibly think this?” but don’t pay attention to the “How” they just stated. It is too easy to dismiss an idea or framework of freedom rather than understand it. When I see this argument about freedom of speech, I ask, “How can you spy on American citizens with out a warrant in the name of freedom?” Do you see how my idea of freedom is different in this case? I believe in freedom of personal liberties and they should not be jeopardized for the sake of supposedly keeping American and her “freedom” safe. Yes, I did use freedom a second time in that sentence to make you think.

So far, I have not used freedom as many times as W did in his speech; in fact only 20 times. I am a progressive and do not agree with Bush, but I, unlike others, understand his framework and idea of freedom. Ideas of freedom will intersect either harmoniously or discordantly as we approach the 2008 election. What I hope is that people will seek to understand their idea of freedom in each issue and vote based on it, standing of firm ground, proud to exclaim “I believe in freedom,” whatever that freedom is to them. Having said that, I exclaim “I believe in freedom,” and I am happy to discuss with you further what idea of freedom that is. Freedom word count: 28, and counting…