Freedom is Hard Won but Easily Lost

Ronald Regan said “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction”.

For many of us, grasping the reality of such a concept would have been difficult until 2020. This year has seen the greatest erosion of the most basic human freedoms known to man such as: the right to gather with ones family; the right to travel freely around ones country; the right to assemble; the right to protest; the right to attend funerals and weddings. There will always be those in positions of power that seek to gain more power and control and who wish to implement a system of unchecked governance. When we elect those people to their positions of power, our role, as citizens of a free state does not end. Maintaining a free society requires vigilance, participation and a willingness to question everything.

Throughout history, there have always been those who sought to attain and maintain power, not for the good of citizens, but for the good of one’s self. Let us not think that the progressive information age of 2020 is any different to any other period in history. Powerful people endorsing authoritarian policies, in the name of public health, is not new. Grabs for power are often crouched in language such as “the greater good”, with the removal of rights being “necessary” for reasons of safety.

If, as individuals, we wish to continue to live as free people, we have a duty both to ourselves and those generations that follow, to be active participants in democracy and ensure that those who have been elected to represent the wishes of the people, are held to account.

Freedom is a constant struggle, in part because many of us have never lived without freedom and therefore do not appreciate its importance and fragility, for others they trust those in positions of power to make the right decisions on their behalf, while others are simply too busy to devote the time required to understand if the erosion of their freedoms is a grab for power or “necessary” for the greater good.

As individuals, we can make many excuses for why we do not persevere in the fight for freedom, but the why, the where and the what becomes insignificant when we wake one morning to find that those in power have determined that clothing is a non-essential item and therefore becomes illegal to sell; that a priest can be arrested and prosecuted if he invites parishioners to participate in public worship; or that attending a gathering at your parents’ home could result in you being fined €2,500.00 and spending 6 months in prison.

Freedom is often taken away a little at a time, with momentary concessions endeavouring to illustrate the good intentions of those in power. Freedom is hard won and easily lost.