Is freedom more important than life?

Bill Mattocks

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What is life without liberty?

What is liberty without life?

Many are those who live without freedom. Prisoners of one sort or another, from criminal convicts to prisoners of war, kidnap victims, and so on. It can be said that physical disabilities can be a prison of sorts, or even serious illness. Most parts of the world exist without the freedoms we possess, and in the entire history of the world, there has been little of what we would term 'freedom'.

Very few of the world's battles, though they might have been a 'fight to the death', actually end up that way - most often, the vanquished capitulate in order to preserve their lives when they no longer have any hope of winning.

And yet, if you asked, I doubt that any of those people so deprived would prefer to be dead. They prefer life - even live without liberty - to death.

Given Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, freedom is not one of the basic requirements of survival. Survival is the prime imperative.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs

As I said, I would fight to retain my freedom, and I treasure it. However, I would rather eat and have shelter and not be ill - those are more important to survival than freedom in a basic, physical, sense.

A living person can at least attempt to reclaim their liberty, or sew the seeds so that future generations can regain freedom. A dead person can do nothing.
 

rocksham

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"Live free or die" is on New Hampshire's license plates. The Revolutionary war found many who were willing to risk and sometimes lose their lives for freedom. Americans weren't really enslaved back than, but we weren't exactly free either. Is it better to die than lose your freedoms? And how many freedoms would you be willing to lose before you say no more, enough, I'm willing to fight for my freedoms at the risk of my life, live free or die! All opinions appreciated.

Yes
 

rocksham

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Life is more important than freedom
. Let me explain.

There can be life without freedom. There cannot be freedom without life.

I treasure my freedom and would of course fight to retain it. However, I would not throw my life away foolishly if I could not retain my freedom. While there is life, freedom is a possibility. When life is ended, freedom is moot.

There was once a man who was condemned to death. He asked the king not for clemency, but for one year's stay of execution. In return, he promised to teach the king's horse to fly. The king granted his request, with the strict proviso that if he failed to teach the king's horse to fly, he would be put to death at the end of the year's time.

A friend saw the man in the prison courtyard, whispering in the horse's ear and exhorting it to fly. The horse, of course, was not flying.

He told his friend that he was crazy to have made such a promise. "Surely," he said, "in a year, you will still not have taught the horse to fly, and the king will have you put to death."

"Ah," the man said, "but many things can happen in the course of a year. The king could die, and it is tradition to grant pardon to criminals when that happens. The government could fall. The kingdom could be invaded. I could find a way to escape from prison. And who knows, the damned horse might learn to fly."

While there is life, there is hope. Freedom can be lost and regained. But not by the dead.

Tell that to those who died to keep us free.
 

Bill Mattocks

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Tell that to those who died to keep us free.

That is a patriotic and snappy come-back, but what does it mean in reality?

I don't belittle their sacrifice - you should know that I am also a veteran, and patriotism was part of the reason I joined the military and served honorably.

But I have examined this exact question over the years, from a variety of angles, and I have come to the conclusion that after the flag-waving and pledging allegiance is done, you still have to deal with the reality. Freedom is not something that is part of every society - in fact, it is relatively uncommon outside of the 1st World. Freedom consists of degrees - no one is perfectly free, we all live by restrictions and prohibitions on our freedom to do anything we wish - some more than others. And yet, we live.

Survival is the prime imperative. Therefore, survival trumps freedom if it must be one or the other. The living can work to bring about freedom. The dead cannot.
 

harlan

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If you look at people, and animals, survival of the dominant often relies on the eradication of competition. Lions kill the cubs of other males when they take over a pride. And there are many documented cases of genocide via the rape of the females, removal of the males (killing, forced military service, etc.).

You assume that because you lay low to survive another day, that those that would remove you of serious freedoms would allow you/sheep to grow in strength and numbers.
 

Bill Mattocks

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If you look at people, and animals, survival of the dominant often relies on the eradication of competition. Lions kill the cubs of other males when they take over a pride. And there are many documented cases of genecide via the rape of the females, removal of the males (killing, forced military service, etc.).

You are right.

You assume that because you lay low to survive another day, that those that would remove you of serious freedoms would allow you/sheep to grow in strength and numbers.

I assume nothing. A person who is alive may be put to death, may be supplanted in their gene pool in the manner you describe above, and etc. And yet, a living person has at least an opportunity to survive and to regain freedom. A dead person does not.

Using your example, even knowing that as a member of a conquered and therefore unfree nation, I might be subject to extermination, I would choose life. Life means options. Death means no options. A small chance is still a chance. Death is no more chances - game over. Survival is never assured, but nevertheless, it is the imperative.
 

LuckyKBoxer

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I think Bill is talking in generalities here, where people coming at him are looking at a specific aspect.

I applaud Bill on his service to our country, and have no doubts that if he were in certain circumstances he would have, if he hasn't, put his life on the line.

I get what hes saying.

Live and fight another day, type of a mindset.

I would agree that I would not waste my life for no immediate and apparant reason, that if I was fighting for a cause, I would look for the winning of the war and not the battle in front of me and take certain punches so to speak to get to my final solution.

There are obviously levels of comfortability that one can stand and still be pushed to far, still have some sort of life worth living.

That is different for everyone. With extremes on either side. You hear about people fairly often who were pushed past their extremes and went out desperately... the idiot at the holocaust museum recently comes to mind.. the vast majority of us would agree he is nuts, has no legs to stand on and that his arguments have no merit... but to him they were real, and he could not live with them anymore.

I know where mine are, the question is do you know where yours is at?
When it gets close what will you do?
Is there a point you will not cross to protect or get back that which you think you should have?
These and many more questions regarding a persons set of core values should be addressed by every single person on an individual level, especially those involved in the martial arts. How far do you take it if you have never thought about it? If you take it too far because you never thought about it, then what do you do then?
 

Bill Mattocks

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I think Bill is talking in generalities here, where people coming at him are looking at a specific aspect.

Thank you - I appreciate your kind words.

Actually, I'm trying to separate the patriotic rhetoric from reality. It is well and good (and even fitting and right) to say that one would die for one's country or die for one's freedom. I get that. But that is rhetoric. No one in battle says "Today I will get shot and die, but it's OK because it is for freedom." The fact is, no one wants to get shot, no one wants to die. And well they should not.

I am also treading lightly over the tiny fact that governments need citizens to have patriotism ingrained to a certain extent, so that they will go and fight when asked, perhaps to die. I don't mean to be brutal here, but it is true.

And even more - we honor our war dead by declaring that they died for liberty, freedom, democracy, and as you all know I am very much involved in those things, so I do not take aim at them - but in the end, dead is dead, and being honored for being dead does the dead no good. They are past being told what great guys and gals they are.

But the reality - we choose life whenever we can. Life chooses to continue living. Every living thing struggles to continue doing just that. It is an imperative.

If I were on an island with one other person, a person who had food, and I had none, and I were offered food, but I would have to be the other person's slave, I'd take the food, you bet. I might bash the guy in the head with a rock the moment he turned his back on me, but no way would I proudly choose to starve rather than be his slave. Slaves can be free someday - dead people can do nothing.

We all do what we do. In real life, I took a pay cut. What can I do? I keep working. If I lose my job - what can I do? I find a way to get by. We all struggle to continue. If I lost my freedom - it would be horrible. But I would continue and if offered a choice between life without freedom and death, I'd still choose life without freedom. And so would most of us. That's reality - rhetoric is for speeches.
 

harlan

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I think we are all agreed that the 'freedoms' we each consider important might be more important than, say the right to have cable. The question is really so individual. In reality, it might be very hard for most people in comfortable circumstances to consider any specific freedoms that they might die for.

How about...the right to marry? A young couple (Afganistan?) was recently stoned to death because they had tried to escape their country and marry each other. Against Taliban rules.

How about the right for your female daughters to attend school without being murdered or disfigured with acid? Happens a lot in Sri Lanka and Afganistan.

How about the right to live in peace in your own home without fear of being murdered for resisting when the corrupt militia tries to force you out? Iraq.

What about the right to resist arbitrary arrest? Or to protest in public when your child goes 'missing'?

What if you happen to have a seat on United flight 93 on 9/11/01?

You are right about rhetoric. But when reality comes knocking, most probably have no real idea of the dimensions of the freedoms that can fly out the door.
 

Xue Sheng

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Actually, I'm trying to separate the patriotic rhetoric from reality.

That is hard to do but I applaud your attempt.



It seems to me that from reading this entire thread we have yet to define what freedom is beyond what we perceive it is in the USA based on "patriotic rhetoric". And in that vain freedom would also allow for others to have their opinion of it and not be argued into submission, but then that is likely just my idealist view of the whole thing.

Some thoughts and views of freedom

There are only two kinds of freedom in the world; the freedom of the rich and powerful, and the freedom of the artist and the monk who renounces possessions
--- Anais Nin

All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.
--- Albert Einstein:

Freedom lies in being bold.
--- Robert Frost

We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom.
--- Dwight D. Eisenhower

We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free.
--- Epictetus

Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you.
--- Jean-Paul Sartre

On life's journey
Faith is nourishment,
Virtuous deeds are a shelter,
Wisdom is the light by day and
Right mindfulness is the protection by night.
If a man lives a pure life nothing can destroy him;
If he has conquered greed nothing can limit his freedom.
--- Buddha

The average man does not want to be free. He simply wants to be safe.
--- H. L. Mencken


And really think about this next one if you are discussing freedom and thinking from a USA perspective using "patriotic rhetoric".


None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free.
--- Goethe
 

Andy Moynihan

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I recently threw my old DMX cd in the car and was listening to one of my favorite songs... "Let me Fly"
It cracked me up how much the lyrics remind me of our situation in the US today with the whole Obamanation going full force atm.
Personally I have my limits. When those limits are crossed I feel sorry for those trying to deny me.

Freedom is not more important to me then my families and loved ones lives.
But my freedom and my family and friends freedoms are more important then my life short term, and definitely more important then anyones life who is trying to take my freedoms away.

that might be a pretty strong way to put it, but I can live with that.

Lucky's pretty much got it nailed.
 

seasoned

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Sadly enough, we take our freedoms to lightly. We may even take them for granted. The old adage,"you don't know what you have, until you lose it", holds very true. As our freedoms slowly erode, right under our noses, we may not even know until it is to late. This question is not an easy one to answer with a quick yes, personally I feel that freedom is important, and many good people have paid the ultimate sacrifice. The problem I am having, is going else where in the world, and dying for freedoms that are not appreciated there.
 
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Joab

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Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread that I began. To me, the motto "Live Free or Die!" Means you are willing to risk your life for the cause of freedom. The patriots who died in the cause of liberty during the Revolutionary War wanted to live and enjoy their hard fought freedoms, but knew there was the risk of dying, yet continued on, as they believed freedom was worth the ultimate cost.

If the country became totalitarian, with the elimination of the Bill of Rights I would fight for our freedom in some sort of underground freedom fighters group. I don't believe we are close to that occuring, but if it did, I would fight for our freedoms.

As the eye on the snake on the Flag "Don't Tread On Me!" is always open, watchful, vigilant, so should ours be to prevent this from happening. We need to fight now in a peaceful way for our individual liberties preserved in our Bill of Rights by voting for politicians who will uphold our liberties and appoint judges that will preserve our freedom.

I think in this time of legitimate concern for our safety from terrorism it is important to not erode away to much of our freedom for our security, becoming something not worth preserving. Certainly prudent security measures are needed, but not at the expense of the elimination of our individual rights. Where we draw the line can be tricky indeed...
 

Carol

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My opinion here is going to be a bit coloured because I live in New Hampshire.

Sadly enough, we take our freedoms to lightly. We may even take them for granted. The old adage,"you don't know what you have, until you lose it", holds very true. As our freedoms slowly erode, right under our noses, we may not even know until it is to late. This question is not an easy one to answer with a quick yes, personally I feel that freedom is important, and many good people have paid the ultimate sacrifice. The problem I am having, is going else where in the world, and dying for freedoms that are not appreciated there.

That is likely very close to what General Stark meant. This was actually not a Revolutionary battle cry. A reunion of Battle of Bennington veterans took place in the early 1800s, but General Stark was then in his 80s and too ill to attend. He sent a letter to the gathering that contained the following toast:

"Live Free or Die: Death is not the worst of evils"
 

searcher

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Many who are not oppressed would say no. Those that are oppressed would say yes.

De oppresso liber. Need I say more?
 
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If an invading Army came into the USA trying to conquer us I would take arms against them, as would most Americans, as unlikely a scenario as that is.
 

teekin

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This is a bit of a different take. Death for me isn't an abstract. It's more of a " Holy crap, I'm not dead yet, Ha! Beat it again. Damn ! More IV's" In order to reclaim as much of my post accident body back as possible I have done some really dumb Dumb AMA things. I know I have shortened my life, damaged my liver and kidneys and my joints are shot. I know the price I am paying to do the sports and MA I choose. If I wind up in a coma or paralyzed at least I was free to do so. It was my choice. I could be safe and live a long quiet uneventful life, not cause any trouble, (and not drive anyone crazy) but what kind of life would it be? I don't want to live that way. I can't live that my. I'd rather take the chance live the way I want and die the way I want. The human heart extends past Maslow.
Lori
 
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