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  • Writer's pictureB. Thomas Marking

Freedom of Want and Fear

Recently, I made a pilgrimage to Washington, D.C. to visit family. One day we decided to play tourist and found ourselves wandering through the marvelous memorial to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. One granite panel reminds visitors of the famous Four Freedoms speech, where FDR stated that all persons should enjoy freedom of worship and speech, but also freedom from want and fear.

It occurred to me that this sentiment embodies the essence of the ageless philosophical difference between liberals and conservatives (especially libertarians). While we all support freedom of worship and speech, we diverge on the freedom from want and fear idea, as good as that sounds. Those who believe in limited government and the importance of personal responsibility would argue that:

Without Want, there is no impetus to help one another.

Without Want, there is no need to love another.

Without Want, why get up each day and try again?

Without Fear of the Unknown, we would no longer strive to learn.

Without Fear of Punishment, we are freed to behave badly.

Without Fear of Dying, would we not lose the lust for life?

So -- be careful what you wish for. Perhaps we humans need the freedoms OF want and fear. For without the want of liberty and the fear of its loss, we may surrender our humanity to those entities which feed on our wants and fears, promising to alleviate all, once granted the power to rule over all.

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