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How much freedom do we really have?

Out On A Limb
Ross L. Talbott
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

The English language is quite a challenge. It does offer the opportunity to get a lot of chuckles from making puns. That might even be termed as pun – ishment.

Take for instance the word “free.” Webster has several definitions.

For instance, if you are offered an item for free, it means you are not to pay. If you are using common sense, you feel that you are going to pay somehow. Does this “free” leave you with a sense of obligation? Is the cost really tacked onto some other expense? Is it bait to get you hooked?



Then we slide over to the word “freedom.” I’m a great proponent of freedom, both personal and corporate. But again, freedom is not free. Many Americans paid a great price in the Civil War to give freedom to slaves. In fact, the racist accusations still being used indicate that that price paid is still not appreciated by some and is used as a political weapon.

We are still not really free.



There are many kinds of freedom, but they all come at great cost.

We want freedom from cancer but someone is paying the cost. Maybe even you.

We want freedom from hunger. The production of food, the distribution, the packaging, the testing and the food stores make it costly. My family expects freedom from hunger, but I have to work to make it happen. People who cannot or will not work want to be free from hunger at your expense, at the cost of your freedom.

Freedom is a complex issue. America is called a free country, but we are not free to do whatever we want or free to take anything we see. We are not free of responsibility to our fellow citizens.

Katherine Lee Bates, in her beautiful hymn, “America the Beautiful,” wrote, “confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.”

I have sung that beautiful hymn all my life without ever actually thinking about that line. To confirm or establish the truth of your soul by self-control is a great concept.

It is obvious that there is evil in the world and it manifests in all sorts of destructive actions. To resist evil and choose the good is a great step of self-control and a positive contributor to living in freedom. If we are going to enjoy freedom to act positively, we must also embrace the freedom from evil influence.

There comes the next concepts in that hymn, “liberty in law.”

Obviously lawlessness is not liberty. If you lived in a city with rampant gang activity and drug trade, you would be in a situation of bondage. You could never trust anyone. You would not feel free to move about safely. Your children and family would live in fear for their lives and property. If the cartel is free to operate then you are not.

If good laws are written and well enforced, then your freedom increases. You become free from fear, and opportunities for relationships increase. The potential for peace and happiness increases and business and job opportunities blossom.

Most communities in America are like the one I live in. We have a town council and a police department committed to an environment that is safe, peaceful and creates opportunities.

Law, when nobly and responsibly applied, creates freedom. Thus we have “liberty in law.”

Unfortunately, evil still exists. We lock our cars and our residences. We install burglar alarms and hidden cameras. Properly motivated and effectively applied law then enhances our freedom.

The dark side however is that law itself can become the oppressive evil. Looking back at history we can see how whole cultures were oppressed and destroyed by over control and despotic laws. The most extreme example occurred in our lifetime and resulted in World War II.

America was founded on the concepts of freedom to own property, freedom to have an opinion and express it, freedom to worship openly and practice your spiritual commitments. Freedom to look for and to create opportunities for acquiring possessions was at the top of the list.

Now we’re losing it. The implementation of laws to guarantee our freedom is a thing of the past. Increasing control and regulations are stealing our freedom. Wake up, before it’s too late.

“Out On A Limb” appears on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. Ross L. Talbott lives in New Castle, where he is a business owner.


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