What is being taken away?
Maybe if people took climate catastrophe seriously, there might be a greater movement to stop gas cooking, livestock ranching emissions, and the distractions of gun deaths, but that is not our world.
At least, not for today.
There is a constant drumbeat in the media telling you about all the freedoms you have that are threatened.
The facts are a bit more telling. If you are one of over three hundred million Americans, chances are extremely good that you do not even own a gas range. Less than a third of all homes have them.
Your chances of owning a gun are greater, but even in this case, more than sixty percent of Americans are not only not packing heat, but they are not even in a household that has a gun in it.
If you enjoy gas cooking you can relax. However, it may do you well to be extremely appreciative of your privilege of having gas appliances because most people just do not have them.
Those that do tend to be much wealthier, live in larger homes, with less crowded neighborhoods, and be what everyone thinks they are: middle class.
All of those who love gas appliances have to love them in spite of the higher cost, maintenance, dangers, and health issues of having gas. Indoor pollution is an actual threat, but one would be led to believe that losing an appliance is the greater threat. This is to say very little about the emissions and pollution issues which are also real.
There are few warnings about just how very bad things like drive-thru eating and a high-meat/processed food diet are for your body and planet. Even when there is a mention of it, in terms of all of the above, or in the grim news about how our fast food and fashion is killing the natural world every day, it is not presented as a threat to your freedom.
These climate costs are rarely presented to the consumer as a threat to your freedom.
Yes, we all have the freedom to eat as we wish, but it is also true that time and convenience are always sold as something you don’t have enough of for which you need the throw-away world of food and all that is fashionable.
Gas cooking is sold as something of a luxury which indicates you have time for cuisine rather than just fuel. It shows you have some quality time for barbecues and grilling rather than heating up some junk in the microwave. More of us do the latter rather than the former. Gas cooking, then, is sold to us as both a “freedom” but also a status item.
One thing we are seldom — if ever — free from is the idea that it’s better to have all the toys than to be lower class. No one claims to be lower class. We can only hope that the world is changing to recognize that it is not “lower” to be working class, that is to be working class is to be a part of the population that does the real work that makes the world run.
What is freedom?
There is negative freedom, the absence from being constrained, and positive freedom, the freedom to choose — such as family size, jobs, schools, and healthcare plans — for example.
Freedom is being liberated. It is having the right to have choice. It used to mean freedom to move around, to explore, to ramble in the woods, to not be fenced in, or controlled.
In a surveillance world controlled primarily by private property owners, the freedom to move freely is gone. Even the homeless are monitored. Habitats, too, are fragmented and fenced in in order to have things like cattle ranching and continual development for homes and manufacturing.
Freedom also used to mean free speech and even a right to factual news and non-biased information. It used to mean cooking and dining with family and friends rather than racing to get back to your side gig, or hustle culture.
Today, when people talk about freedom as we see in most pundits warning you about what “freedom they are taking away,” the subject is almost always a threat about something you are about to have taken from you.
It may be abstract; safe neighborhoods, race-free schooling, or your right to binary pronouns. It may be actual objects. You have heard that they wish to take away your beef steaks, your bacon cheeseburger, your gas range, or your gun.
So far none of these things have been banned, even if some of them are being discouraged. A good many people, especially in food science, climatology, social psychology, and medicine do see reasons we should have some limits on the many things that do impose upon other kinds of freedoms that many people value.
Knowing the origins of all the waste in our world and the externalized costs is one way to pursue freedom of knowledge and choice.
Today, we need to stay alert in order to know when natural beauty and health are being truly threatened, and when there is just hype and finger-pointing.
Among the freedoms that many people value are a habitable, sustainable neighborhood and planet, wildlife and clean ecosystems and landscapes, freedom to have alternatives to unhealthy food and products, and the ability to have more objective reporting as to what is actually diminishing — what is actually being taken away.
What is actually most at threat is our sustainable connection to the natural world.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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