How I define freedom
By Andy Monthey, Opinions Editor
When President Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union on Tuesday, Jan. 28, it became easily apparent that a certain theme was contained within his message: inequality. His point, however, rests on the definition of the word “freedom.” Obama said quite astutely that, “Our freedom, our democracy, has never been easy.”
This was the only time in the entire, hour-long speech when the president used the term “freedom.” Why would Obama only use this hugely emotional term once?
To us, “freedom” has an obvious meaning. It is especially codified in the First Amendment of our Bill of Rights, which states our rights to free speech, to peacefully assemble, to form the press, and to practice whatever religious beliefs we may hold.
While the application of this First Amendment has been dubious at best in our nation’s history, we still hold these values to be the cornerstone of a modern, liberal, democratic Republic.
When the President uses this term only once, he is shying away from the inevitable ambiguity that such a term implies.
Freedom can mean many things. It can mean the freedom to pursue one’s happiness, or to choose a politician or a certain product. But it can also mean the freedom to control, to persecute, to invade.
Clearly then, freedom is not always a bad or good term. Nevertheless, when we say it in our speeches, we must understand exactly how we mean it. When we do this, we may take advantage of “freedom” no longer.