The Dangerous Business of Freedom

The house across the street was awesome.  Well, maybe not so much the house.  It was just like every other house in our neighborhood.  It was really the driveway that was awesome.  The house was on top of a hill and the driveway snaked down that hill and fed into a part of the road that continued on a steady decline.  Every day that driveway begged for me to ride my skateboard down it.  I usually obliged.

Looking back, I probably should have died on that driveway.  Instead, I just got a few bumps, scrapes and cuts.  Like the ones on my hands from the time when I went down the hill laying down on my skateboard and thought that it would be a good idea to use my hands as brakes when I saw a car coming.  Brilliant!

Bill lived a few houses down.  He managed to avoid the scars.  And he never got hit in the head with a baseball bat like I did.  Bill never had a bike stolen and he never got slapped too hard on his shirtless back during a game of two hand touch street football.

But Bill never went outside.  We only saw him twice a day.  Once in the morning when it was time to get on the bus and once in the afternoon when it was time to get off of the bus.  He hibernated during the summer months.  Bill was easily the safest kid in my neighborhood.

There are a lot of government officials who are talking about ways to keep us safe.  They give impassioned speeches where they say things like, “I’m tired of the bloodshed.  It’s time to get tough on guns.”  They find new and creative ways to invade our privacy, all the while promising us that they’re just trying to protect us from terrorists.  “Besides,” they like to remind us, “why worry about personal privacy if you don’t have anything to hide?”

We may think that all of these new bills and programs are for our safety.  In reality, they’re slowly making us more and more like Bill, the guy down the street that grew up confined to his house.  It’s easy to be safe when you’re not allowed to do anything.

My friends and I learned some valuable lessons during those carefree summer months when we drank from the water hose and dodged oncoming traffic on our skateboards.  Life, when enjoyed properly, is dangerous.  Freedom is the same way.  Just as it is impossible to truly live while enjoying absolute safety, it is impossible to be truly free while at the same time enjoying absolute security.

The problem is that this kind of talk doesn’t win elections.  Politicians have to look like they are being proactive in the battle against sugary drinks, guns, terrorism and raw milk.

It’s just too bad that more aren’t being proactive in the battle against our freedoms.