There might be few things on which most people agree but freedom is one of them. Although we might differ over what we understand freedom to be, we all think freedom is a good thing. And yet, truth be told, most of us don’t care as much about it as we say we do or as we think we do. The truth is that freedom comes at a price and most of us don’t want to pay it.

We live in a world where government has been inexorably getting bigger and more distant from the individual and the family. If nothing is done to halt and reverse this process, we will have a World Government serving the interests of global corporations and global financial organizations, which will be utterly unresponsive to any of us or to any of the rest of the powerless people of the world.

Do we really care?

Most of us are much more concerned about the creature comforts than we are about our political freedom. As long as we can answer the call of the commercials to continue adding to our list of needlessly created wants, we are happy enough. If we have enough disposable income to spend on disposable products, we are quite content that our own freedom is being continually corroded and eroded and, needless to say, we could not care a proverbial fig about the freedom of others.

If freedom requires that I sacrifice the gratification of my immediate desires to fight for its preservation or restoration, I don’t think I’ll bother about freedom. It’s too much trouble.

If freedom means that I need to start thinking about the political, economic, or environmental ramifications of my chosen lifestyle, freedom can go to hell.

If freedom means that I need to be aware that the things that I buy and the things that I do come at a cost to others, I’m not interested in counting the cost.

If freedom means that I need to know that every dollar I spend is effectively the casting of an economic and political vote that makes the world a better or worse place for my neighbours, it’s time to forget about my neighbours.

If freedom means that I need to know that every dollar I spend is effectively the casting of an ecological vote that makes the world a better or worse place for the creatures with which I share it, it’s time to forget about all creatures, flora, or fauna, be they great or small.

The sad but true reality is that nothing has changed since the time of the ancients. The Romans knew that the masses could be kept in their servile state if they were provided with bread and circuses (panem et circenses). As long as we can keep ourselves fat on junk food and keep ourselves distracted with our hand-held devices and the celebrity circus that they serve, we really could not care less about freedom.

Plebeians of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your liberty.

Republished with gracious permission from Intellectual Takeout (October 2016).

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Editor’s note: The featured image is by Bastian Greshake Tzovaras and is liscensed under creative commons 2.0.

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