Saturday, February 9, 2013

What DOES Freedom Sound Like?

Yesterday afternoon, I was having a pleasant interaction with a building inspector when a military jet roared so low overhead that the boom rattled the windows.  We paused our conversation until our hearing returned.  Then the inspector related a quaint little anecdote on the subject of military aircraft.  Seems he was at a business meeting with a bunch of men when the roar of a jet interrupted the flow of the meeting.  “Sounds like a fighter jet,” posited one committee member.  To which a second attendee—a former military pilot—replied: “No.  That sounds like freedom.”
Something about that story struck a discordant note with me.  I stopped open-mouthed for a moment, and then resolutely back-tracked to the conversation we were having pre-sonic-boom.  What I wanted to say was, “No, that sounds like war.  War and freedom are not synonymous.”
I wonder if becoming a nation through bloodshed doesn’t scar a people for life.   The US is not the only country in the world that won its freedom by virtue of armed conflict.  But the value system spawned by our violent genesis seems to shout louder than anything else on the world stage. We embrace the fallacy that war and freedom are one and the same because, for us, one was so closely followed by the other. 
We speak of American lives lost on battlefields half a world away, in conflicts having more to do with global bragging rights than any actual threat to the values or lifestyles of US citizens, as having been sacrificed “to protect our freedom.” 
We have the audacity to claim that making pre-emptive war on another sovereign nation should be construed as “spreading freedom.”
We viciously defend our right to keep weapons of war in our own homes, trained on our neighbors and perhaps on our government, in the name of “safeguarding our freedom.”
To us, “freedom” seems to be defined as some god-given right to shoot, bomb, or otherwise beat the snot out of whomever we choose just to show the world that we are free to do so.
And it seems the more our culture advances, in years and strength and technology, the more pronounced this warped way of looking at things becomes.  We’re going to have our freedom, by god, if we have to kill everyone else on the planet to get it.
All the freedom in the world is the prize of the last man standing.  But what fun will it be with no one else around to spread it on?

1 comment:

  1. I'm working on it. But, for starters how about the laughter of children who know it's safe to go to sleep at night.