Is that so? That’s what most of us would say. Is that so?
Well, yes. It is exactly so.
Most people believe that they are born Free. That being Free is a God-given right. And yet they are all wrong. We are all wrong.
Freedom is not a right. Freedom is a responsibility.
I was reading Brian Herbert’s second instalment of the Dune prequels, The Machine Crusade. In it, distant future Humanity faces off the thinking machines led by a self-aware AI called Omnius in a titanic clash that can only end with the extinction of the human race or that of the sentient robots.
After a tactical victory over the Omnian robot fleet, humans are celebrating their win over the evil AI by making speeches and beating their chests in triumph.
“Freedom is a basic human right!” they’d say over and over again. As if mere repetition would make it true.
And that catchphrase got me thinking. You see, I’ve always thought that freedom is a basic human right. In fact, it was the central pillar of my intellectual construct. One that encompassed it all. But that all changed in a blink of an eye, when I internalized that herbertian quote.
You see a right is something that you are born with or that the law provides to people by default. Although as Mr. Rasczak (from Robert Henlein’s Starship Troopers) would have it, if the state can give you something, that something has zero value. I would even go farther. If the State can give you something, then it can also taketh away.
A responsibility however, is a duty, sometimes even a legal one. The two terms are sometimes binomial, other times at odds, but most times are attached to people either legally or organically.
Since Freedom is perceived as a Right, and Rights are not Duties or Responsibilities, how can Freedom be anything but a Right?! – you may ask.
Well, the answer is simple. People think that they need to fight for their rights, either by opposing those who’d deprive them of their rights, or by just standing up for their rights.
What most people don’t realize is that in order to protect their Freedom, to retain It against those who will try to steal It away from them, they must fight for It. The operative word being Must. And that makes protecting Your Freedom Your Responsibility.
And since Rights ain’t Responsibilities, it follows that fighting for Your Freedom is not an option but a Duty. You cannot put it off and procrastinate like you’d do with a Right. You have a duty to stand by It, to make sure that Your Freedom is never dimmed or extinguished by the Forces of Tyranny.
Freedom is not a Basic Human Right. Freedom is a Basic Human Responsibility. It should be the first thing on our minds when we wake up in the morning. And it should be the last thing we think about when we go to sleep at night.
Freedom is the greatest single animator of our soul. It brings purpose to our existence, it motivates us to wake up each day and go about our lives.
Our ancestors died because they thought they were protecting a right. Most history comprises of tales of valour spun around a hero who defied a tyrant. Such heroes died so that we could understand that Freedom is not something that you just receive from your forefathers like a goddamn athlete running the relay race.
They died so that we could have a chance to change our way of thinking and doing. They realized how futile was for each generation to shed rivers of blood in defence of their rights.
So unless we take a Historical Hint from them and regard Freedom as a Duty, we will be throwing away the lesson learned by a thousand generations. If we take It for granted, then we set ourselves up to fail. We must be vigilant and we must pay close attention to our political environment.
So next time you feel the need to postpone standing for your Freedom against Oppression, but believe you could do something else with your time, Don’t!
Fighting for your Freedom is not something that you can do in your spare time. It’s a 24/7, 365 days a year job! And it’s not a Choice. It’s your Most Sacred Duty.