The desire for freedom is as old as the existence of humankind. To be free is a goal all people share, irrespective of their culture or individual background. When asked what an oppressed people want most, the answer is “Freedom.” But what does “freedom” mean? Is it merely the unhindered right of self-determination? Or is it something else? For as many people as you might find on Earth, you’ll find as many different definitions. Most Americans will tell you that “freedom” means the right to do as you please, so long as you don’t trample on another person’s rights. Most others would probably define it as control of their own destiny. So, who is right? Both and neither.
Freedom in and of itself is the right to live your life, to fulfill your destiny, to live your dreams, without the government or anyone else telling you how you can do so. There are many forms of freedom guaranteed to us by the most sacred of our documents-the federal Constitution. Here on the pages of the Hurricane we celebrate and guarantee one of the most sacred: freedom of Speech. It is perhaps the most essential to a truly free people. “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…” is the clause from the first amendment. It is a right we often take for granted and is a right that far too often in our history has been denied to many millions of our fellow citizens. Around the world today many people are denied that right while some, like the people of Iraq, now know it for the first time.
This is why we fight there. Not for oil, not for wealth, not to conquer a tormented nation, but for its freedom and for ours. Freedom from oppression. Freedom from terror. Freedom to protest the very people that liberated them. Most importantly, however, the freedom to live. As they choose to, for good or ill. That is what supporting freedom is all about-to be able to respect and champion another’s right to speak even if that speech causes your blood to boil and enrages you to the core. Standing up for it is essential to its maintenance and it is what I am proud to do here, even when I am in the company of those with whom I staunchly disagree. In the end, the endurance of our free nation is everyone’s responsibility.
Scott Wacholtz is a senior majoring in political science. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will be missed.