Freedom isn’t Free but Fear is

Okay, so I am a temperamental mood tonight, so you get a post that is going to be a rant tonight, so be warned. Why is Freedom not free, but instead I say that fear is very free. Freedom is a hard idea to hold onto, it can be taken away very easily, many things can affect your outlook on how much freedom to hold onto, and what exactly constitutes freedom, it is an ever changing idea. Fear on the other hand, fear of your life being taken away or ended, is a quantity that is very easy to change, have someone hold up a gun to you, place a sword at your neck, or in the modern terminology, evoke September 11th. You see all of sudden fear is a very easy thing to add into your life and very hard to take away, weeks afterwards you will remember the gun being pressed into your body, how your entire body seemed to be dissociating itself from your conscious self, and your every thought was “Oh god, let me live 30 more minutes.” However does this mean that we should give up our Freedom for this temporary and I do mean temporary relief from the fear of our life.


First thing to notice is how I capitalize the word Freedom and not fear, why, you might ask. This is for a very simple reason, fear is an irrational reaction to outside stimuli. It is decided and acted upon in milliseconds with the only thought being the ability to make it to the next minute or the next hour, etc. Freedom however is a philosophical idea, it is thought out through years, the ideas of what constitutes freedom for many people in their country was a decision that took years sometimes, and is continentally being decided upon every day, by their different branches of government. Fear can be removed from your life and added back into it within seconds. Going back to our idea of someone placing a gun to your body, now imagine the gun is removed – relief floods your system, wait the gun is back pointing at you even closer and more menacingly than before, the fear returns within seconds and once again your life is in danger after you just thought you were safe a second ago. Fear appears and disappears in our life everyday, sometimes more often than that. The fear of what will do for the rest of our life, the fear of whether or not we will pass a class, the fear of losing someone important in our life, the fear of change, all of these are fears and they are all different and they are all irrational. Most can be debunked by examining the situation critically, some can be realized in hindsight how stupid the fear was, some are situations that we have no control over and fear will only make the situation worse and paralyze our minds and actions with indecision.


Many people who know me, know that I don’t fear terrorists or their actions. Why, you might ask. A very simple and easy answer is this, because I don’t fear for my life ending. My life will end when it will, nothing I choose to do will change it. The second part is because I don’t believe the facts put me at much risk of dying from a terroristic event. The average person has a higher chance dying from drowning in their toilet (Warning: PDF Document) than dying in a terroristic event. Does that mean that the average person is more afraid of his/her toilet than they are of being unwittingly dragged into being part of a suicide run on the White House. The majority of people would say they are more afraid of the latter, with good reason. A toilet doesn’t seem to evoke to much fear, in fact it evokes on a daily basis none to the average person. A toilet is comfortable in the sense that it is used daily and on an almost regular basis. A toilet is fairly easy to understand the mechanics behind which it works, or at the very least it doesn’t look like voodoo magic. Whereas an airplane, the science behind which it works are not understand by the majority of people who ride them and also an airplane is not used with the same frequency as the toilet is used.


So, on this anniversary of September 11th, what will I do, will I fear the terrorists or will I go about my life not caring. In all honesty I will do the same thing I did 5 years ago, not care. I wasn’t afraid then, and I won’t be afraid today. I did watch the news that day almost non-stop, I did hope and wish that people would be rescued and saved. I was pleased when the nation stood together and decided to go after those responsible. I did not spend that day thinking my life would end, or even worry about it. My thoughts did not go out to any of my family members, because statistically speaking the chances of any of them being one of the 2,973 people who died on that day is almost impossible. Does this make me an irrational person who has lost all grip on reality and needs to be checked into a mental hospital, or does it make me someone who at the ripe old age of 15, examined the evidence, shrugged my shoulders and said “My chances of dying are minimal, so who cares.” If someone at 15 can choose to do that, why is that people 2, 3, and 4 times my age are afraid?


What I have observed is that these people give into their irrational fear and rather than continuing to live life, choose to stilt their life by making choices based on their fear. These choices are the choices that the terrorists wish us to make, to change our life, to terrorize us (which is the ultimate goal of a terrorist), so that we fear the terrorists and their actions. For that reason I do not and will not give into fear, and accept the suspension, removal or outright ignorance of my civil and personal Freedoms. My freedom is something that I do not want taken away. Fear is irrational and can be overcome multiple times, freedom taken away once is much harder to replace ever. Remember, fear is freely handed out, but Freedom comes at a price. If we are too afraid to enjoy our Freedoms what is the point of our Freedom?

Justin Yost is a full-time Software Engineer and a part time educator. A graduate of Texas Tech University with a bachelor's degree in computer science, Justin relishes programming and learning more about anything and everything. When not working, Justin occasionally gives talks at the local PHP Meetup. In his free time, Justin enjoys backpacking and reading science fiction books.

Posted in Politics, Security
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