written for a contest i had to participate in for school. i don't think it won, but i enjoy it.
The Challenges of Freedom
The challenge of freedom, freedom's challenge; a vague topic one might say. There are so many challenges involved with freedom; with the gaining of it, the keeping, the expanding, the understanding. One problem with our nation is that we sit, fat and ignorant, with our freedoms, freedoms of speech, religion, press, all given to us by the Constitution. But we, as a nation, do not seek to bring these rights to others. We travel to oppressed countries and 'free' them, but only after our own rights have been attacked. Our actions are right, our intentions correct, the reasons behind them? Not so much. And so, it seems the challenge of freedom is not only found in attaining it, but perhaps also in deciding how freedom should be earned, dispersed or granted, and who has the right to these.
Thomas Paine, a companion of our founding fathers once said, "That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only, which gives everything its value." Before the catastrophe that was September 11th, did Americans truly value the freedoms given to us by our government, formed for the people, by the people? Do we still? Our forebears fought and died for the freedoms we these days take for granted. We are now born with these freedoms, undeniable and easily obtained; all one has to do is get born. We most desire that which we do not have, which was the reason behind the revolution that gave birth to our nation. Our founding fathers wished the representation in the government that the king would not allow. So what did they do? They broke with the king, they fought and bled and worked and wiped sweat from their brows until they had won that which they had sought. They finally had what they had so desperately desired and for generations, the people were reminded of the cost of that freedom and held it dear. Now, we, born with freedom, see no cost for our freedom, and perhaps that lack of challenge involved in the attaining of our freedoms leads us to believe that they will always be here. We live comfortably with our freedoms without ever thinking of those who do not have them. Until. Something rumbles, something aggressive, the unknown enemy, the enemy with a name but no face, attacks us. September eleventh hits us. We are attacked on our own soil, our own people are killed, and our own heroes are made, only to die. Terrorists attempt, and succeed, in filling our lives with fear. Americans are afraid to fly. Arab-Americans begin to experience a period of sudden, unjust ostracism first hand. We are afraid.
To free us from our fear, to allow us to lives our lives again; the government assures us it has events under control. A war on terrorism is declared. We fight the Al-Qaeda and those who aid them. We invade Iraq and Afghanistan, looking for weapons of mass destruction we later learn are not there. We free ourselves from fear, but in doing so, bring it to others. Do these nations deserve the fear we bring to them? Do we have the right to bring it?
After September 11th, we went into Afghanistan to bring the Afghani's freedom from the Taliban. We bombed their cities, destroyed their land, and once the Taliban had fled, left them to fend for themselves. For had we not brought ourselves out of the ashes so many centuries ago. Had we not risen to become great? Could they not do the same? The difference between the United States and Afghanistan, however, involves who performed the lighting of conflagration that led to the people bearing their own torch of freedom. In America, its own people performed this task, the Afghanis were not given that advantage. Let it not be said that I am saying that ridding the Afghanis of an oppressive government was in poor taste. The moving on after doing so however was less than admirable.
"But," you say, "was this not the fighting for our freedom that you claimed we lacked, that would bring the importance of freedom back into our very souls?" Nay dear friends, for fighting a war against terror is like fighting a war against soup. We are attempting to fight an inanimate object and a faceless enemy. For decades, even centuries before September 11th, terrorism has been occurring all over the world. In Northern Ireland, the IRA has been involved in terrorism since "The Troubles" in 1969. The acts of terrorism and counter-terrorism that have been occurring there for almost forty years have only recently come to a halt. For forty years terrorism even closer than the Middle East has been occurring, and the U.S. never attempted to free these people from their fears.
The conflict between Israel and Pakistan has been going on for almost fifty years and only recently has begun to be truly resolved. A Holy Land scarred and damaged by hostility.
All people in the world deserve freedom in their lives; freedom from fear, from unnecessary pain and hunger, from tyranny and oppression. But as the United States attempts to do so, let us not delve into hypocrisy, let us not become what we abhor, as Quakers Ross Worley and Kathryn Bowers pleaded. Let freedom be earned by all so all may keep close its beauty.