Creel O’Neil

Debate and logical discourse are some of my favorite pasttimes. They really bring out the character of an individual. It exposes their true colors and-sometimes-helps people see each other in a different light. So, naturally, I get into little entanglements all the time, usually in the role of observer. One particular entanglement stemmed from two e-mails I received from a more conservative individual that happens to be close to me. I don’t profess any ideology, especially in politics, so I can only read these political e-mails for so long before I have to say something. The debate continued on for a few e-mails until a topic came up that I felt very troubled by. The statement was made that I had a disdain for America because of my criticisms of what was going on within our borders.

To be honest, nothing could be further from the truth. The difference lays in a very subtle fundamental philosophical distinction. An idea that takes the foundations of our freedom and builds upon it, realizing that what the founders built was not to be set in stone. It was meant to grow with time and, with any luck, march further towards stable freedom. The comment was made under the context that I disagreed with some of what was going on within this continent and therefore had a disdain for America. The simple response to this is “what is America?” True, this has been asked before, but let me look at it from another angle.

It has been said many times that “America” is the embodiment of freedom. In a sense I agree with this statement. However, it is important to understand that the first does not give birth to the second, rather the second gives birth to the first. Freedom is what gives America ground; America is not what gives freedom ground. This fragile fabric, that is freedom, is being torn and tattered by the winds of time and change because people associate their freedom with the wrong things. The framers did not intend for the nation to make us free, but for us to make the nation free. A nation alone is nothing but an imaginative social order dreamt up by people trying to organize in a societal way.

Freedom, however, is no imaginary thing. It is not a nation; it is not a religion nor is it any other imaginary socio-psychological construct. It is a state of personal being, a constant and lifelong pursuit. This is such a fine philosophical line that it has been lost in the cacophony of political lust, greed and the general ignorance of the public intoxicated by our brief success as a world power. This freedom we all claim and trumpet is, in truth, not something inherent in a “nation.” It is a matter of a people, their individuality, personal intelligence and rationality. Such is why democracies and republics are so heavily dependent upon the rationale of its public. In this sense, no matter what happens to the land or the government-no matter what ignorant philosophies people spout about nationalism and the divisions of men -what America truly is will live on as long as free peoples still exist. Freedom needs no territory, nor does it need a country-it is the essence of humans in pursuit of life. The collective of those humans is the term “America.”

This may seem a rather large inference, but it ensures that freedom is no longer illogically tied to divisive ideological bounds, false trains of thought or nationalistic fervor. It seems a much better application in a globalizing world to understand America not as a culture or product, but the linguistic embodiment of a collective of free individuals. From here, one can see that criticisms of actions within our territorial boundary are not criticisms of America, but criticisms of what others claim America to be in order to advance their own personal goals-goals that, in many cases, are of detriment to the larger community or serve only a narrow purpose. The ideologically driven ideas of freedom with which many in our society associate only opens the floodgates of greed and broken empire. As we venture into unstable times, it might behoove us to look at such thoughts as I have here and seriously question whether or not the elements of life we attribute to freedom really make us free. The questioning of such things could help ensure that no matter what catastrophe may befall our social constructs, the existence that is the pursuit of freedom will always live on.

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