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When I was a child, I stumbled upon philosophy through a tummy ache. I had eaten too much or run around too hard and found myself feeling miserable outside on a hot summer day. While I was in my own private agony, I remember thinking, “I’ll never take all the hours I’ve spent without stomach pains for granted again.” And I never did. Sometimes when other childhood problems had me down, I’d think, “Well, at least you don’t have a stomachache,” and I’d nod in agreement to the voice in my head. I learned to appreciate something simple — living without pain. Yet I also remember wondering, “Did I really have to go through that momentary misery just to appreciate normal existence?” I think the answer is “yes.”
No matter how effectively my parents warned me about running hard right after eating a big meal, I do not think I would have learned the lesson without some painful experience driving the message home. That epiphany, I realized, was bigger than a stomachache. There was a fine line between painful consequences I could imagine and painful consequences that, for whatever reason, I had to experience firsthand. Too often, in fact, I correctly imagined painful consequences in life and still insisted on experiencing them personally just to make sure they lived up to the hype in my head. What can I say? We humans are a strange lot.
Looking around today at this rumbling, raging contest between individual freedom and State-imposed control has me pondering that early childhood memory once again. Can people imagine the costs of securing freedom without having to endure its attendant struggles? Or is it necessary, from time to time, for some contingent of humanity to suffer through tyranny just so that it might subsequently fight for personal liberation? “Freedom isn’t free.” It’s a great bumper sticker, a message of sublime truth. Do most people actually understand it, though, if they haven’t become personally acquainted with its painful meaning? Or must they first lose what they were freely given before learning why liberty is so dear? The past two years of COVID-1984 madness and Western governments’ increasing obsession with “climate change” fear porn necessitating today’s food and fuel rationing suggest an obvious, if dispiriting, answer.
If Americans required a State-sanctioned stomachache to remind them of freedom’s natural bounties, they have certainly suffered the mother of all ipecac remedies. As frustratingly difficult as it is to watch American politicians befoul the land with their Green New Deal communism and allegiance to the World Economic Forum’s New World Order, their attacks on Americans’ freedoms are simultaneously stirring in the collective American consciousness an equal and opposite effect that might not have previously been possible. Until experiencing a pandemic police state that arbitrarily shut down lives and livelihoods at the whims of cynical and calculating bureaucrats, too many Americans put their faith in the government’s shameless cult of expertise. Before the DOJ and FBI openly targeted fed up parents who objected to public schools’ abhorrently racist and sexualized curricula, most had no understanding of the Marxists’ pervasive indoctrination of their young children. Before Congress’s J-6 Soviet show trials and the Deep State’s years of criminal persecution against Donald Trump and his voters, conservatives gave the federal government’s institutions entirely too much blind deference.
Only when the U.S. government accused half the American population of being “domestic terrorists” for their political beliefs did many finally understand how dangerous the national security surveillance state had become. Only when it became clear that Big Tech and Big Government were actively working together to censor Americans’ free speech and punish certain points of view did many finally grasp how serious the threats to liberty now are. Like some weary beast waking up from a deep slumber, the American people have begun stretching, looking around, and rejecting a lot of what they see. A growing contingent even realize that the freedoms they hold most dear have been under attack for quite some time.
Now, I wish that none of this discomfort were necessary in the struggle for human liberty. I wish most people would permit history to be such a stinging reminder of how difficult it is to achieve and maintain freedom that they would never carelessly let it slip from their grasp. I wish that humans were impervious to smooth-talking politicians who promise gifts in exchange for servitude. I wish that Memorial Day, Veterans’ Day, and Independence Day were sufficient to remind those who have benefited from the comforts of freedom without risking anything for its blessings not to throw away carelessly what they have yet to defend. Alas, it does seem as if human nature demands a little self-inflicted misery from time to time so that those who have not suffered can learn the costs of ensuring that liberty lasts.
The battles taking shape today, after all, involve nothing less than what it means to be human. On one side sit the oligarchs, communists, and New World Order globalist types who think of human beings as nothing more than cogs or inputs to be used, manipulated, and discarded. On the other side are those of us who understand life and liberty as precious, sacred gifts that deserve enduring respect. The Great Resetters and Build Back Better enthusiasts see people as digital ones and zeroes that can be made to obey society’s programming codes. Friends of freedom, on the other hand, understand both free will and moral intuition as the hallmarks of human existence. Communism and its global government derivatives seek to deny individual choice. Liberty-lovers know that without individual choice, there can be no real life.
These two starkly different visions for the future are easy to understand. Nobody could mistake State control for individual rights. Nobody could mistake the “Great Reset” as having anything to do with free will. However, perhaps only the World Economic Forum’s threats against Westerners’ self-determination could awaken Americans to exactly what’s at stake. Perhaps only the emerging pain of totalitarianism could prove why freedom isn’t free but always worth the fight. Perhaps only the agony of liberty lost could remind Americans why liberty is theirs by right.