The tensions in the Middle East over the last month or so are having a profound affect in the region. The ousting of President Mubarak, the longest serving ruler in Egypt, has shaken the foundations of many of the existing rulers in the region; they may be considering that their hold on power isn’t as absolute as it once was. Even the notorious Colonel Gaddafi has reportedly fled Libya and gone into exile in Venezuela after fierce demonstrations resulted in him slowly losing his country. Even if he is still holed up in Tripoli, his reign is destined to be short lived either violently or with him fleeing his country.
So, what is going on in the region. In simplistic terms, it appears that the citizens of the countries concerned are sick of being under a dictatorship and want freedom from it. How and what is going to happen when the vacuum of the previous government has to be filled is anybody’s guess. Will the people that demonstrated so earnestly get the freedom they want? Will the deaths rid their country of corruption and ensure that human rights are introduced?
These are probably a few of the questions the ‘experts’ will be considering and, no doubt, we will all hear what the ‘experts’ from the various news channels will think. The overall question that I have been thinking about is, what exactly is freedom? Do any of us actually have it?
Freedom is an ethereal concept. We, in the ‘civilised’ world believe that we have it and those that are oppressed should be entitled to it. But what is it?
The Oxford dictionary definition of freedom is, “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants” as well as, “absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government; the power of self-determination attributed to the will; the quality of being independent of fate or necessity.”
A lot of words. Now think about how you would define freedom and if it has any resemblance to the definitions above.
So, are we free? I live in England, a civilised, democratic country. Am I able to act, speak or think as I want? Well, we can all think what we want. As yet, there is no power on earth that can dictate what we think. Or can they?
Humans are social animals. Most of us crave company. We, in England, have a unique society. When I was a child, I was raised to believe in certain things and behave accordingly. I was taught to think a certain way and the laws of the land enforce the way I am supposed to behave. Is that freedom to think as I want?
We all know that we cannot act the way we want. There is no way the law is going to allow you to walk into the nearest Rolls Royce dealership and drive off with a car. Not unless you pay for it, that is. So, we are allowed to do as we like within the limitations of our laws. Is that freedom to act the way we want?
Going back to the demonstrations in Egypt, I remember seeing one man, on the news, say that he was tired of not having enough food or being paid enough. He was tired of a corrupt government that were lining their own pockets with the money from the people.
Even though England is supposed to be a modern, civilised country, we still have poverty. There are people who are starving, especially now in this period of austerity. Living here costs a lot of money and our taxes have been increased making it even more difficult for those barely above the level of subsistence. Even in our civilised, democratic country our leaders have been found to be lining their pockets with the cash of the tax payers.
So where is the difference? The only difference is in the degree of corruption and the level of subjection. Is this what those demonstrators gave their lives for?
There is no way to be truly free. You could live on a boat in the middle of international waters. That way, you wouldn’t be subject to any one law – oh, wait a minute, ahh yes, there is an international maritime law. a desert island then? I know that you can buy them but am unsure about the laws governing them, if there are any.
Freedom is about as real as fairies at the bottom of the garden. For us humans, anyway. We decided, long ago, that we would create societies and countries, each with our own beliefs and laws. When our ancestors did that, they took whatever freedom we had and made it nearly impossible to regain. That was the price we paid for civilisation.
Freedom is for the fish and wild animals on the Earth. For the rest of us, it’s something we can dream about or even write about, but will remain as attainable as time travel.