Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Notes from Aspen: The Fault Line of Freedom.

In a wonderful week of thought and reflection at the Aspen Institute, we explored community and culture. An observation was made, which I agree with, that we are in a post-modern period where we are searching for meaning. Below is the third of three specific fault lines that I personally feel as a part of my search.

The Fault Line of Freedom

The third fault line is freedom. Many of the battles of American history, from the Revolution, to the War Between the States, World War II, and the Civil Rights Movement, have been fought under the banner of “freedom.” Today, many that Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed would be “free at last” are no longer certain that freedom is always progress, or even always possible.

George W. Bush is pursuing a foreign policy that bases our security on others living in freedom. It is not essential that they share the dominate religion that we do, but it is essential that they share a common democratic, capitalist culture. This is the process by which we tamed Japan and Germany after World War II, but its application today has deeply divided our nation.

Even in the United States itself, proposals to increase the freedom to choose, from public education to health care to social security, are challenged as unworkable solutions. The most frequent objection is that the poor and disenfranchised at the bottom of society who are not a part of the middle class culture do not have the capacity to participate in choices available to others. I was struck last week by a comment that, “the free market preys on the vulnerable.”

While the War on Poverty in the 1960s was defined by giving people fish to eat, my passion has been to create a community where more people are empowered to fish. I have found the cultural barriers for some underserved people in our community to be significant hurdles for them. This is why the idea that people are “carriers of culture” impacted me so significantly. Rather than me directly reaching communities with limited access, perhaps my efforts would be better served focusing on a few individual “carriers of culture,” who can learn the fishing trade and then return and teach their communities to fish.

2 comments:

headless lucy said...

The "choices" you enumerate are merely transfers of public monies to private corporations. Welfare for the rich, if you will.

Swamp Fox said...

You've made my point that some are "no longer certain that freedom is always progress."

If folks took a portion of the resources allocated to them for public education, health care, or social security and purchased services from a private corporation because they thought that was in their best interest, what is wrong with that?