Safety matters, but at what cost?

Terrorism, Social Activism, Civil Liberties

A while ago, I read this book called “Little Brother” by Cory Doctorow. It is a young-adult fiction book about a 17 year-old high school student whose everyday life revolves around technology. His life is like any other teenagers boy of his age until a terrorist attack occurs in the city where he lives. On that day forth the Department of Homeland Security monitored the city in search of possible terrorists. I will say no more, don’t want to spoil it, I suggest you read it. It has some serious themes like social activism and civil liberties as well as obvious parallels to Orwellian warnings. Orwell’s “1984” Big Brother as opposed to Doctorow’s “Little Brother”. If you haven’t read 1984, it is time, this one is a must.

Survival or Freedom

Anyway, both these books got me thinking. What is more important survival and safety or freedom? Why do we have to choose one over the other you ask? Well in such extreme situations like the one I described earlier, I believe that personal life is gone, and freedom is vanished with it. I have heard many differing opinions on this matter. Some people believe that there is a hierarchy in life, first goes survival, then safety and leave freedom for last and therefore least too. I find this disturbing. To sacrifice your freedom for safety! How is it possible to survive if you‘re not free? There is no point in living if you are enslaved. How are you caged you might ask? I don’t feel that you have to be in a cage or somebody’s slave to be considered imprisoned. Freedom is gone once you are under someone’s control and you are definitely restrained, to say the least, when someone is watching your every move.


On the other hand, safety is a necessary condition for the value of liberty. To an extent, I agree. I do believe that you can’t think of freedom when you are in danger. But there is a huge difference between “wildlife” dangers and the ones that are created by civilization. You can’t be living in a city and have a life of constant fear. That’s what happens in nature. You have to be prepared for anything really. But I think society has gone to another level, we have many things to worry about for sure, but survival shouldn’t be one of them. I acknowledge that a certain amount of government protection is necessary, but we have far more government “protection” than the least required. Some would even say that we are on our way to totalitarianism, which is when the government holds total authority over the society and seeks to control all aspects of public and private life whenever necessary. Like Benjamin Franklin once said “those who would give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”.


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