I grew up with parents who lived through the most recent tangible existential threats to humanity - World War II and the Cold War (in the US and Europe). I have had a close relationship to people who have felt the threat to their freedom in a visceral way. I think many alive today did not have that experience.
My life has developed around my identification of emerging threats to my freedom... threats to which most people have mustered (at most) a dull "meh" in acknowledgement. I've been moved to take action to mitigate those threats, when the masses have collectively demonstrated a pervasive indifference. Maybe it's all the science fiction I've read. Who knows? I see us as the frogs in the slowly heating stewpot.
The inescapable conclusion: the price of freedom is greater than just about anyone is willing to pay. What is that price?
As I see it, the cost of freedom is:
- principle, not expedience,
- vigilance, not obliviousness,
- knowledge, not ignorance,
- action, not passivity,
- personal responsibility, not abdication, and
- agency (educated self-reliance), not profound indifference.
Those costs represent a heavy price - in fact a life-long commitment, but one I'm more than happy to pay (it's an instalment plan), because the alternative is unacceptable.
Millions in recently past generations paid an even more horrible price to reassert our freedoms, and yet we are not moved. Here in New Zealand, we remember their supreme sacrifice every year... but we don't remember the values which motivated that sacrifice...
I wonder, with great trepidation, about our generation's legacy. Will we be worthy of admiration? So far, I fear not. I fear we only value our freedom... when it's gone. Should I be more optimistic about human altruism and foresight?