The quality of a personnel defense session I attended on Saturday was second only to the discussion held in the car on the way home. The topic was “freedom”, but a better description would have been “the lack thereof.”
One of the good friends with us Saturday has long believed that while we speak frequently of how our fine young men and women “fight for freedom” on foreign shores, they really don’t. That is not to imply that our warriors are any less heroic or worthy of our admiration, but consider this – as my friend does – “where do real threats to our personal freedom come from?”
My friend’s basic premise starts with a single question; in real terms, who has presented the biggest threat to our personal freedoms? Has it been the old Soviet Union? Was it North Korea? Was it the communist government of North Vietnam or the tribal warriors of Iraq or Afghanistan? He argues, it’s been none of the above, and I agree.
I’m old enough to remember the senseless drills we did in elementary school; the ones that had us taking shelter under our desks in the event of thermonuclear war. I remember the Cuban missile crisis and I know those threats were real. But I also remember going camping at a state park nearly every summer of my youth. A lot has changed since those days.
Back then, we woke up in a camper, had breakfast, jumped on bicycles with our friends and didn’t see our parents until we were so hungry we could barely make it back to camp for dinner. My friends and I were 8 years old at the time and free – totally free back then. We didn’t think twice about being on our own all day and neither did our parents. We hiked, fished, rode bikes, played ball, went swimming and explored the massive park from sun up to sun down. There may have been child molesters back then, but we hadn’t heard of them. Child molesters were not tolerated back then. Our rights were held in higher regard then theirs were. No so much now.
By the time I was 12 we were even more unsupervised. Summer camping was over with but we were still outdoors Come the fall, we did the unthinkable; we carried guns. No, not BB guns (although we had those too), but real guns. We made no attempt to hide them and people who saw us with them didn’t freak out because there was no reason to. We were headed to the woods to go hunting. We hunted rabbits, squirrels, deer and sometimes ducks.
Guns were no mystery to us. Our fathers had taught us what they were, how to use them and what they were capable of. We knew they were dangerous and we respected them. My mother loved wild rabbit and I shot my first one for her when I was 9. By the time I was 12 I was hunting rabbits with my friends and our fathers. By 14, it was just us friends. Our parents trusted us and they had good reason to. They gave us a lot of responsibility and we accepted it. We knew that responsibility came with freedom and we knew both could be taken away just as easily as they had been granted.
Looking back, all that freedom is long gone. Kids today can’t disappear in a state park all day. If they did, their parents would get a visit from child protective services. Kids can’t even get near firearms and if a child was seen walking through a field with a shot gun, he’d be arrested, kicked out of school and most likely barred from ever owning a firearm again.
By now the premise of my buddy should be obvious. It wasn’t the Soviet Union (directly anyway) that made it impossible for kids to freely roam our parks. It wasn’t Viet Nam that made firearm ownership socially unacceptable. It wasn’t Korea that ushered in the dawn of political correctness. It wasn’t Sadam Husein’s Iraq that pushed Christ out of the classroom and got Nativity scenes kicked off courthouse lawns. It isn’t tribal warriors from Afghanistan that monitor how we vote, what political party we support or how many tea party events we attend. It’s not even Iran that monitors our phone calls, reads our e-mails, logs what TV shows we watch or dictates how much soda we can drink. Arguably, as my friend so correctly points out, not one of these lost freedoms has been lost to a foreign threat. All of these intrusions, all of these lost principles and traditions have been stolen from within.
The author of this notion is a veteran himself so he bears no ill-will to those who wear the uniform or selflessly serve their country. He is however, correct to question exactly what freedoms they fight for? To his way of thinking, every single freedom we have lost has been lost to a domestic enemy. Worse yet, those freedoms lost weren’t even taken by force. In every single case, we willingly handed them over without so much as a whimper of legitimate resistance.
Maybe that old saying is right; “We’ve seen the enemy, and it is us.” So much for America being the land of the free and the home of the brave.