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Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose


Last updated 3/18/2020 at 12:02pm

Every once in awhile, the song done by Janis Joplin as well as Kris Kristofferson (who wrote the song) pops into my head. The actual song title is “Me and Bobby McGee.” While the song is about a journey taken by a couple through difficult times, the refrain includes that great phrase: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

The concept of freedom is one we are hearing a lot about every day. In particular, if we look at the citizens of Hong Kong, we see a besieged population of people who grew up with freedom. In fact, Hong Kong developed into one of the most important financial centers in the world.

When the British agreed to return this former UK colony (won in the first Opium War 1839-1842 – to be kept by the UK for 99 years) to the People’s Republic of China (Why they agreed to do this is clearly weighing heavily on the citizens there), the deal was “one country, two systems” (a free society for Hong Kong – but under the communist system of the PRC) for at least 50 years.

Well, now under President Xi of China, the PRC (People’s Republic of China) seems to be having second thoughts about allowing Hongkongers too much freedom. Riots, no deaths so far, have been very large – with as many as 30% of its 7 million+ citizens turning out to protest.

So what is the big deal? Here’s the big deal. Once you’ve been “free,” the human spirit will fight to the death to either remain free or become free once again. Look at the civil rights movement in the U.S. Even though the slaves were freed after the Civil War in the 1860’s, defacto segregation continued for well beyond the middle of the 20th century. Many died fighting for true freedom during a struggle that started in earnest when Rosa Parks, a black woman riding on a bus in Alabama, decided that there was no reason she could not sit further forward than the back of the bus. The Montgomery bus boycott followed.

Looking back nearly 75 years, one wonders whether such a fuss was really necessary. Clearly, it was. I really like the movie “The Hunt for Red October” based upon the Tom Clancy novel. There is a scene in the film where a Russian submarine captain and his first officer (who are in the process of defecting to the U.S.) are talking about their future life in the United States. The first officer is asking the captain whether it is really true that you can drive from one state to another “without papers.” The captain says, simply, “Yes.”

A great big smile pops onto the face of the first officer. Then he says, “I think I shall have two wives when I settle in the U.S., and I shall drive a big SUV.” Of course, other than historically in some parts of Utah, you cannot legally have two wives.

This shows that in civilized society, some “laws,” which some might argue restrict freedom, are necessary. The classic: “You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater” or “Your right to free space ends at the nose of the person next to you” are just two of many.

Now in the early Wild West, “disagreements” were sometimes settled by a dual. The two parties would walk into the street, start back to back, count out 10 paces, then would turn and shoot. Fortunately, today that is against the law.

Here’s what I believe. I respectfully suggest that our U.S. government has gotten too big. It appears (to me) to encroach upon personal freedoms that were part of the founding fathers’ aims for this country and are written in the Bill of Rights in our Constitution.

I truly like walking down the street and know that I can become just about anything I desire and go anywhere I like, that there is nothing governing my personal freedom other than what I wish to make of my life.

To that end, I salute Bobby McGee. Freedom is truly just another word for nothing left to lose.


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