Sixty years ago the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations expressed in plain words the fundamental and inalienable rights that every human being should hold. Among those, the idea of freedom was not the simplest to define.
Two hundred years ago Europeans enslaved many thousands (millions?) in pursuit of profit. Today history gives us licence to go trough with any sort of atrocities because in the past worse has already been done. Why should people be granted freedom?
Although many people would have their own interests before those of the other, for most people, freedom of is still a ‘good’ thing. Non-democratic states, some religions, criminals and others are looked down upon. The 8 million children who remain enslaved around the world have media attention (the children are submitted to violence and are not allowed to leave the workplace, often deprived of a meal, or fed only enough to keep alive; they also have no time to play as children). Many people want to grant freedom to those 6-8 year olds without thinking about the economic effect.
‘Children are the part of demographics most susceptible to psychological and physical terror,’ they say, and they are right – the building of freedom begins with children. If a child understands he has freedom, he will as and adult have more experience of exploit of his environment and therefore be more productive. Often the inferiority complex caused by systematic debasement and belittlement of the human nature as a slave can be enough to keep the slave in harness, but he will not exploit and produce as much as he would in freedom.
Freedom works best in societies where individuals feel responsible for their actions. Accountability and respect for fellow citizens are important in a civilized and safe community. Safe communities cannot be created where the lack of education, unemployment and poverty threaten the rights of the people.
Accountability restricts the freedom of a person; nonetheless, it is in the best interest of the majority to have a degree of trust in the society. Although a person may wish to commit murder, theft, fraud, the majority regard such engagements as undesirable. The freedom of the minority is restricted in order to grant superior freedom to the majority. The effecter(s) are held accountable: subjects whose intentions infringe on the law and rights of others are brought before the court of justice; their actions are weighed and a decision is reached in accordance with the law.
The state becomes the arbiter for disharmonies that arise in any larger society. Modern man is incapable of existing without depending on the state to protect his rights. The state constitutes a framework in which enough freedom is approved of and too much freedom is cut short.
Freedom can be viewed as the opposite of poverty. For example: the lack of time (due to work or other responsibilities) might prevent a girl from meeting her boyfriend as often as she would like – her freedom is restricted. In another words, she is in time poverty. In Hitler’s Germany freedom, was the liberty of committing suicide when the burdens of life became too grave. Ultimately freedom is the liberty of being, which when restricted, means death.
Root causes of poverty such as lack of education and lack of employment need to be addressed to build freedom. Research shows that less poverty leads to lover crime rates and overall increase in life quality for people. Crime is primarily the outcome of social, economic, cultural and familiar conditions – that is to say the environment – which can be developed in sustainable ways. Good environmental design is the key element in providing safe neighbourhoods where active, successful and affluent citizens are created.
In the state level one encounters the poverty of good governance. Poverty is the debasement of the human dignity. Freedom is the opposite.
People should be granted freedom because it is the most cost effective way of developing the society. The members of a free society are more exploitative and productive than their counterparts in other types of societies. As each new trend is a counter production of its mother, an exploitative society can be the only one to give birth to the idea of cooperation.
Written in December 2006 at Tallinn Old Town College.
Kris Haamer 12K, VHK.