Freedom vs. Safety

Alyson Healy, Staff Writer

“Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of slavery? Forbid it Almighty God! I know not what course others may take but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” These words rang true through the Virginia House of Burgesses and the Thirteen Colonies, rousing colonists to take up arms with Great Britain, rather than continue being treated like slaves. These words, spoken by Patrick Henry, helped strike the final blow for those Americans who were still not sure whether or not to join the Patriots’ cause, and stirred and emboldened those already in the fight for liberty. Many people debate whether freedom is more important than safety. After reading The Giver by Louis Lowery and reviewing a few refrences, I have come to the conclusion that freedom is more important than safety. For example, giving the government the power to monitor us interferes with our Constitutional and civil rights, and goes against the morals our Founding Fathers put in place. In addition, we should let the government handle the things that we, the individual citizens, can’t do ourselves. After much research, I feel that freedom is more important than safety.

To begin with, giving the government the power to monitor us interferes with our Constitutional and civil rights, and goes against all the morals put in place by our Founding Fathers. For example, the Fourth Amendment of our United States Constitution “protects the right of the people to be secure in their papers, houses, affects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…” This means that if any law enforcement wish to investigate you, they must acquire a warrant (“a sworn statement before a judge”) describing what persons or possessions must be seized, and what place in particular to be searched. However, according to the Constituional Rights Foundation, under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the FBI has the right to conduct “secret searches” without a warrant which is technically an infringement on your fourth Amendment right. Also, giving the government the power to monitor us, doesn’t necessarily guarantee that we will be fully protected.  For instance, according to Ron Paul in a presidential debate on their views of the Patriot Act, “living in a police state, with cameras in every house to prevent things like wife beating and child beating, while we may have safety and security, the crime will be against us, the American people, and our rights, and we would therefore be throwing out everything that the Revolution was about.” Said simply, by giving the federal government the power to monitor us, even by having the police and cameras in every household, while it may keep us safe and secure, it would go against everything we fought so hard for; everything that we, the American people but our lives on the line for and died for, today and yesterday, and everything that we stand for, would be in vain. Furthermore, while I understand that the whole point of the Patriot Act was to root out any terrorists or potential terrorists, it was passed very quickly in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. In fact, may of the senators that voted for it were against it in the first place, because some of the recommended ways to combat terrorism were seen as “infringing on the rights of Americans”. Finally, just because we may give the government the power to monitor us, doesn’t mean that that they will necessarily make the right choices for us. Consequently, they may feel the need to punish anyone who speaks out against the current administration (even if they mean no harm and are simply expressing their concern or opinion to, say, a friend) as it would not be “safe” to the rest of the country, since it would make others have different opinions, and therefore want to protest the government. This would therefore be an infringement on your Fourth Amendment right that gives you the right to protest the government and the freedom of speech. I’m sure our Founding Fathers would be rolling over in their graves if we ever let our country get to this point.

Furthermore, we should let the government handle the things that we, the individual citizens, can’t do ourselves. For instance, though we give up a little of our freedom (by paying them) so that the government can, say, raise an army and build highways, it is totally worth it, because we could never do this ourselves. (As a paper that I read clearly stated.) In addition, Thomas Paine, known for his well-known pamphlet Common Sense, believed that government should be an establishment whose only purpose is to protect property, life, and liberty, and nothing else. This means that he believed that the government shouldn’t get involved in things like universal healthcare, education, or altercations with criminals and police, since the police are quite capable of handling themselves when it comes to crime, and the individual should be able to choose their own doctor that they like and feel comfortable with. Lastly, if you want to have freedom, then your are responsible for protecting yourself, and not run to the government asking for help to bale you out of debt or give you a Band-aide every time you cut yourself. A recent article I read stated this best, because this is basically giving the government the power to control your life. However, this is why we have the Second Amendment in our Constitution, that gives us the right to bare arms, even when we’re not in times of war. If we let the government do the things that we, the individuals can do ourselves, then we are slowly relinquishing our God-given rights, even if it means that we are “safe”.

In conclusion, freedom should take precedence over safety. While we may give the government the ability to deal with the things that we, the individuals cannot do ourselves, if we give the government the power to monitor us by slowly relinquishing our freedoms, then we are letting them walk all over our Constitutional and civil rights.  Sure, you could argue that living in a totalitarian government–much like in The Giver where any freedom or even the right to express yourself or have a different opinion, is suppressed, and are watched and monitored constantly in everything you do–is worth living. You could also say that this keeps you safe, and assuages any fears of violence. But would it really be worth it? Is giving up your God-given rights to reasonably speak your mind, worship how you want, and vote for an opposing candidate from a different party if you don’t agree with the current one, worth trading for safety where you can’t even have an opinion that differs, all for the “greater good”? After all we went through to win the Revolution to get these rights, we’d be stripping America of her true colors.