Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What a misused word "Freedom" is...


Signing of the declaration of indepence

It appears that numerous people act as if they know everything under the sun, and anyone who has a mouth, has got something to say about "freedom". Words such as "patriotism, freedom, and safety" are floating around as if in a sea of word symphony without much sense. We're all patriotic, we all want to be free. What does that mean exactly? Every time the word freedom is used, I must ask for the user's particular definition. It's like a piece of worn out gum everyone has been chewing.

Before defining this simple word that we've been accustomed to hear numerous times a day, not just on media, but from ordinary citizens, friends, or even out of the mouths of the babes-as the saying goes, let me briefly introduce some other words that we're not so familiar with as far as the experience goes.

The first word I'm going to introduce you is "monarchy". We might have heard of it in school once upon a time in a boring history class of bygone eras, or had swooning feelings inside if the name of a certain monarch whether a prince or princess mentioned: the word itself in its true meaning is far more dominating than what that simple dreamy swoon is making you feel.

Monarchy is generally defined as a nation's ruler or head of state usually by hereditary right. But all in all, every head of the state is a monarch, whether a prime minister, or a president for a time. Because when the time of decision comes, all boils down to one person. 2000 years ago, it was only one power that counted in the western world: Rome. Rome became the purest, most absolute monarchy the world had ever seen. All power, theory and usually in practice were in the hands of the emperor. He was a god on earth whose task it was to rule and to defend the empire. The duty of his subjects on the other hand was to obey and to pay back taxes. The idea that there might be any limit the emperor could do or that others should have a say in what got done was simply inconceivable. One of the earliest examples of direct challenges to the monarchy was Magna Carta issued on June 15th, 1215 requiring the King to proclaim certain liberties, and accept that his will was not arbitrary.

Why then are we so willing to hand out and do away with our existing liberties? Does no one read history?

Most often in our society, we react as opposed to observe, and identify whatever the current issue is that's boiling the public's blood. If there is a shooting in the hands of a maniac, we decide to disarm the entire nation, wanting to take away the 2nd Amendment: the right to bear arms.
Or that quoting the recent news in Turkey that a university dean, a gigantic ass bozo who had the gull to say that "women were as guilty as men if they were raped. Because wearing low-cut dresses triggers sexual desire in men thus may cause sexual abuse and rape and consequently women are as guilty for having been raped". Reading this piece of garbage made all my nerves stand up and anger me so much that I don't remember having felt this furious and exacerbated in many many years! Now, I will continue with the aforementioned "sorry-excuse for a man's (with a PhD and a social standing as a university Dean)" definition of acceptable dress code - anything other than those mentioned would subsequently become the cause for "your" rape (which should include all the women in my acquaintance Turkish, American, or European):

"All parts of a woman's body including her feet should be covered except her hands and her face. Should it evoke provocation, the face too must be covered (if you're young and have average looks I suppose then all females within their puberty years thereon should not show their faces)."
At this point I have to tell you that my heart is beating a 100 miles an hour, and my shoulder length hair is standing on end because I'm so angry! And this jerk-wad continues that "the heaven is forbidden for a woman who wears perfume!" What?? Does it mean that if I smell good, I'm destined for hell? What should a woman to do? Walk around with BO? Oh, but there is more:

Apparently, "a woman should NOT speak coyly, which is flirtatious" (in his definition). Then he goes on to say, "if all of these are NOT enough to protect her honor (I mean, despite having been covered head to toe, walking around with no pleasant smell, and you maybe reasonably good looking which may require you to cover your face as well-and if ALL THESE ARE STILL NOT ENOUGH TO KEEP THE RAPISTS AWAY FROM YOU - don't forget it's apparently your fault as well if you get raped, then he suggests the following), the woman should NOT be allowed to leave the house for her own safety". He tagged the word "safety" in the end, because apparently "it's her honor that is at stake." I have quite a few choice words I can say to this PhD *insert here the appropriate noun*.

Here's is what I think: Not a single religion should rule a country. It's the flaws in the human character, the fabric of our being - the good and evil always intertwined, that will deviate from the purpose or the norm of God's good will (happened in Rome where the emperor was God and religion all bundled in one neat package, happened in numerous religion ruled countries no names need be mentioned, and take a look at south America for other examples), and these exact flaws will defeat the purpose of any good will that a religion may extend to better the humanity. I will have to say to those who want to extend me their form of government; "thanks, but no thanks. Don't thread on me." Though we complain and whine at times, the American style democracy is still the best in the planet. Let's face it; there are so many different kinds, and races of people, different religions; not only do we co-exist, but we Americans love our country. What we have, our system, our form of democracy, our constitution with all its flaws, the way it had been written in 1777 works better than anything else existing in the world. Let's keep it that way.

It's not because religion in its purest form is bad. But it's a form of drug for most people one must be administered with its antidote: A mixture of reason and common sense. Though this antidote is free to all, it's as uncommon as gold or diamond. There are many people who use this to move the masses, and most in those masses like to follow and not think individually. People in their character have the good and bad intertwined; and those who nurture the bad aspects in them, usually use every tool available to them to master the masses and unfortunately, religion is a powerful tool for those because of its capacity to control the masses. History is full of examples from every religion and I don't need to give those examples to you here. Don't you dare to give me how your religion (I'm not talking about God here, he's the epitomy of everything perfect, but what I'm talking about is religion) is sooo incredibly pro-humanity, I can rebuttal every claim. Just try me...

Said that, such things as people trying to impose a change for their own gain, whether a group, a party, or religious bigotry always at bay ready to jump at you to break the individual freedoms. This holds true historically and for modern nations of today whether it’s America or Turkey. We alienate what’s different than the societal norm (see the example of educated bigot above), or what is different than what we personally believe is right thus in return REact to obliterate whatever that is and thus inadvertently eradicating certain liberties. Freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom to right to bear arms, freedom to wear what you want, freedom to exist... Freedom. What a misunderstood and misused word that is. If I had a penny - not even a nickel to put aside each time that word was used, I'd never have to work all my life. What is freedom anyway? Freedom is defined as the absence of interference with the sovereignty of an individual by the use of coercion or aggression. It’s a state of being free from government oppression. Well, if I had to put my “Dollars” aside for each “correct” use of the word, I’d probably have enough to buy a lunch at McDonald’s and maybe an additional happy meal.

One of the most fascinating historical characters in the human history is Alexander the Great. He simply stands out with his entire being. When he died at the age of 32 of typhoid in Babylon in 323 BC, he accomplished so much that most people wouldn't be able to come close to even if they had to live through numerous lifetimes. He became a legend in the mold of his personal hero Achilles: he was pronounced the “new master of the Universe” and the son of Egyptian god Amun. He was a wise man, he was a murderer, he was genius, he was psychopath, he was fearless; he was all these things, and perhaps, none of them as well. He was loved by his men (sometimes literally as it was part of the Greek, in his case, the Macedonian culture to have male and female partners), he brought East and West together from Macedonia to the corners of India. His deeds are just legendary! His pursuit for eternal glory came to an end in Babylon. At times, he was a womanizer like his father King Philippe (perhaps they should also coin a word him “MANizer”). He learned the wonders of Greek culture from Aristotle himself. Just like his hero Achilles, he wanted to have a short life with a burst of glory as opposed to a long quiet life. He started an 11 year conquest which would forever reshape the world as we know it today. He was extremely decisive, he was bold, and he was fearless to the point of being reckless. When he went against the Persian Emperor Darius he was outnumbered by a great army and one of the richest emperors in the world who had the financial means and the military prowess to fight him. Alexander loved that challenge.

His ability to adept was a sign that he was a great general as he knew how to easily overcome obstacles. He loved to use the weapon of fear as he was not an emperor who wanted to be loved; he wanted to be feared. He was ruthless to the nth degree. At the end of the day 50,000 Persians laid dead. His attitude towards defiance was “either join me or die” (do as I do, or get the heck out; sound familiar?) When he surrounded the Island of Tyre, they resisted. Alexander had one of his longest and most brutal sieges. At the end of seven grueling months, Alexander’s army was able to breach the city walls and seven thousand Tyreans were killed, 30,000 were sold into slavery. To make a point to other city states which might resist, he had two thousand Tyrean fighters crucified! When he was done, he had his men’s blood lust run loose and virtually every male in the city had been killed.

He had a very dark side in him; he manifested some of the worst traits of humanity. When he moved onto his next project, he wanted to capture Gaza. Gaza governor Bacus was resistant and defiant. He had the governor Bacus of Gaza killed for his defiance; he had him tied with ropes and dragged him around the city behind a running horse till he died. This of course was a scene from Homer’s Iliad where Achilles ties his arch rival Hector the same way and runs through the city, however Hector was already dead in that scene. Alexander had a very dark side indeed which permeated, blended with him that became the fabric that he was; he refined the art of brutality to the highest level humanly or inhumanly possible. Ironically, in many cases that is what contributed his success.

On another incident he speared Cleitus killing him who served under his father and also saved Alexander’s life in battle who was a Macedonian noble that publicly denounced him. He was his best friend. Alexander was in one of his drunken binges where he was shouting out that his deeds as an emperor was greater than his father Philippe’s, and after listening to this ranting silently, Cleitus shouted at him saying “all your glory is due to your father!" at which time Alexander grabbed a spear from one of the guards and killed his friend Cleitus instantly. Alexander mourned Cleitus’ loss excessively, but that obviously didn’t stop his temper to begin with. He had Callisthenes executed who was a Greek historian, one he took along to his campaign to record the history in the making (first embedded journalist). He was his former teacher, because he disagreed with him, Alexander had him tortured, imprisoned and of course killed. Alexander was a man of his own time. He was the ultimate predator. In fact, He loved going to hunting lions unarmed!

When he went into the eastern most part of the Persian Empire, he reaches to Hindu-Kusch Mountains with his 30,000 men army. The mountains were 20,000 feet high at some points; there was freezing rain, and snow at times, elevation itself was a killer and some passes were so narrow, the army had to go in a single file the length of them reaching up to 10 miles! Who would follow such a man to such a crazy expedition? His men did, as they had a very tight bond with him. Alexander had an iron determination. His army was willing to do whatever he asked them to do. He was a megalomaniac. He demanded an all consuming control of his men since he also got that from the public and people he conquered.

Though this one man’s absolute freedom made him into the historical figure he is, it also encompassed the freedoms of everyone else on his destructive path.

Here’s another historical figure; Caligula, one of my devious favorites. Not because I like him, but because you can’t ignore him; he just sticks out like a sore thumb out of history. He was born as Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus and was known as Caligula; born in 12 AD and died in 41 AD (he was 28 when at the time of his death). Though he was moderate and noble for the first two years of his rule, after this period of time, he showed his cruelty, sexual perversity, extravagance, and overbearing insanity and was a complete tyrant; he managed to fit four wives, many male and female lovers into his short life time. He was self absorbed, killed on a whim, killed for amusement, was a very angry person, and overly indulged himself with spending and sex. Slept with other men's wives, and bragged about it, had incestuous relationships with his sisters Drusilla, Livilla, Agrippina, and also prostituted them to other men. If there were no criminals to be thrown into the arena to be devoured by the wild animals, he indulged himself by having a section of the crowd thrown into the arena to be eaten. Oh yes, he also made his horse Incitatus into a consul and a priest.

History is full of examples where the dominating rulers took whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, whomever they wanted while not granting simple human liberties such as life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness as in the United States Declaration of Independence. These three simple aspects are among the unalienable rights (as stated in the latest version of the Declaration of Independence, but newer dictionaries use it as "inalienable rights" which are used interchangeably and are one and the same); sovereign rights of man. Why then I must ask we are so willing to hand them over by simple misuse of the word “freedom” or as in the Turkish example "your safety"? The idea of human rights is born simply out of this. Unalienable rights are considered to be self-evident and also universal. The Legal rights that we have been enjoying since before the constitution within this continent are not granted around the globe; not every homo-sapien around the world enjoys them, not even today in the 21st century! Are we so tired of being free (within the true definition of the word)? Perhaps we should review Alexander the Great and Caligula again. Those freedoms were neither free nor cheap. They were paid in full with with blood and lives - that holds true for all democracies. It took the idea of democracy thousands of years to evolve and get in its current state; breaking it down even one page at a time out of the history would be devastating for the human race. Do people have any idea they'd be allowing to happen? They'll be making room for rulers worse than Nero, Alexander and even Caligula. I sincerely hope that this does not happen.

I hear people everyday in social media or news, or flood of e-mails I receive how they love their country. Do you really? Not in words, and "I've passed my patriotic e-mail on, I'm done with my duty to my country" or sent my son/daughter to the military. Don't get me wrong; that is a big deal. One's child is the most important person in one's life (depends who you ask, but this seem to be the consensus for general public), but considering a lot of the countries around the globe make this a mandatory mission for all males (some countries require all citizens) who reach the age of 18, this sort of dims the lights on the countries' citizens who serve on voluntary basis. Most of my relatives served in the military. My dad was a tank driver in the army, my brother was an officer in the navy who served in the peacekeeping missions in Bosnia. In fact, a lot of the girls I know will not marry a boy who has not served in the military, because it's a prerequisite along with a list of other things. My dad always said that all males should serve in the military if they're able bodied, because it makes a man out of boys. Sort of a right of passage. I'm sure many will disagree with that, but it's an opinion as good as any. My best friend is married to an ex-airforce guy. So when something is the "norm" you don't get the bragging rights on that thing. Military service is one of them.

 How do you love your country? What do you exactly do for her everyday in terms of hard work, in terms of bettering something for your fellow human being? This is why I love Voltaire who said: "Qui sert bien son pays n'a pas besoin d'aïeux." (He) Who serves his country well, has no need of ancestors. Because frankly, I'm tired of hearing what your grandfather, great-grandfather did for his country while you do nothing. Serve your country well, so you shall need no ancestors. Simply do your job (whatever that is.) As in the words of Martin Luther King, "If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can't be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be be the best little shrub on the side of the hill. Be a bush if you can't be a tree. If you can't be a highway, just be a trail. If you can't be a sun, be a star. For it isn't by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are." the best of your ability; work hard, be involved in the lives of your children, if you can remove a small obstacle from the road for the next one to pass through, just do it. Whatever you are doing, do it to the best of your ability, and you shall serve not only your country but your fellow human being, and your God.

 Keep your neighborhood clean and safe, be a good neighbor (give a ride to their child to school along with yours, buy groceries if you know your neighbor lost his/her job, if you're not able to do that at least pray for them to find a job and let them know, if you have extra items, by all means avoid doing a garage sale and donate them to someone you know who needs those things- do small things in your own capacity), be a good friend, do your best in all things that you do every day. That's what the men and women did who shaped the west who are my biggest heros.
This is how I love her, like John Wayne did:
I think this following poem by William Ernest Henley speaks volumes for the American sprit (though the poet was British and he was only talking about his own unbroken sprit and as a demonstration of his resilience following the amputation of his foot due to tubercular infection.) But nonetheless, it's a great piece to express the sentiment for the true American sprit - we all one time or another fall on various tough times as it is the case for a lot of our states currently and their citizens, but we Americans are hard to break and that's what I love the most about us. But this poem is almost the definition, the pinnacle of freedom. Freedom of human spirit: our hardwired, inner desire to be free against all odds, even against the universe itself:


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

Alexander the Great (above and below)

Caligula (3rd emperor of the Roman Empire)

1 comment:

Elwood Billshot said...

Hell hath no Fury such as Freedom denied. Take Notice now our Leaders.
The Bull Shit Ends Here & Now.
EB 2014