Freedom and Unity

In the 21st century, Americans enjoy greater freedom than the people of any nation in history – freedom to think and speak what they wish, worship whatever they please and be whatever their individual propensities urge them to be. More than its wealth or its power, it is that freedom which makes America so deeply appealing and attractive to people all over the world. As an 18 year old Indian woman exclaimed after working in the USA for a year, “for the first time in my life I am treated as though my ideas and opinions matter, that I have capacities to be developed and aspirations worthy of being fulfilled.” Political, economic and social freedom have become fertile soil in America for the eventual emergence of psychological freedom – the freedom to be oneself and realize one’s unique potential as a human being.

The combination of Freedom and Unity in America became a source of inspiration for other nations, for the nationalist movements that ended colonialism in 50 countries after the Second World War, for the founding of the UN as a united community of nations, and the birth of the European Union. Had it not been for the Northern victory in the Civil War, history would have been dramatically different. America would not be and would never have become the world’s most powerful and prosperous nation, the leader of the free world, the embodiment of the human aspiration for freedom. Far more likely, it would have splintered into a dozen or more independent nations and labored over decades to overcome their differences to reunite as the countries of Europe are laboring today. Yet, Freedom remains an unfulfilled idea in America, a distant goal, perhaps even a fading dream. And the reason is still the same. Those who enjoy the benefits won at such great cost and sacrifice by their forefathers seek to preserve their privileged positions and are reluctant to extend and share what they have gained with others. Freedom to them, like to the slave-owning plantation owners of an earlier period, means freedom for themselves, not assured equality for all.

Today, the divide that separates people is economic rather than political – the rights of those who possess wealth opposed to the rights of those who aspire for it and are deprived by a plutocratic political system, by an economy dominated by major corporations and money power, and by the right of financiers to speculate, even when it endangers or destroys the real economy which it is intended to support and deprives millions of their capacity to earn and achieve economic security. Speculation is proclaimed as their sacred right while the right to gainful employment is left unrecognized. Speculation is financial slavery. President Franklin Roosevelt understood the divisive power of economic inequality and strove to combat it by launching the New Deal. He understood that economic equality makes real political freedom. FDR even planned after the war to introduce a second Bill of Rights to protect employment and other economic rights, but died before he could achieve it. The right to employment is the economic equivalent of the right to vote in democracy. Without access to gainful employment opportunities, freedom is a maimed concept.

The battle won at Gettysburg effectively ended the Civil War, reunited all Americans within a single nation, freed black Africans from slavery and deprivation of their legal rights, and made the USA far stronger than it had been. But the war for Freedom and Unity was not won that day. It continues to be waged on a battlefield that now encompasses the whole globe. Nearly three decades ago another great leader rose inspired by the values of Freedom and Unity. He too risked all to win freedom not only for his own people, but also for the people of many other countries living behind the Iron Curtain and beyond that for humanity as a whole, which was bound and oppressed by the ever-looming threat of total catastrophic war between the superpowers. Mikhail Gorbachev won a huge battle for freedom on behalf of all humanity. Because of his initiatives, a democratic revolution spread throughout Eastern Europe and overflowed to other continents. The world became a far safer, more open, freer place where people could move freely and interact without fear or suspicion. The very founding of the World Wide Web was made possible by Gorbachev’s radical initiatives, making possible the extension of freedom globally.

Still, the war is not over. Political battles are still being waged in many countries. Economic inequality is rising. Plutocracy is even more entrenched than ever before. The unequal sharing of resources threatens the stability of the earth’s environment. The whole world is held ransom by the manipulations of financial speculators and the political power of vested interests.

The war is not over, but its inevitable future direction and result are assured beyond doubt. Every forward step of human progress over the past five centuries has been a step toward greater freedom and greater human unity. They are the engines that have unleashed the creative energies of humanity and channeled them through social organization into greater material, social and psychological security, welfare and well-being. The signposts for humanity’s future evolutionary progress are unmistakable. Our future lies that way. Every small forward step carries us closer to thegoal and our common human destiny.

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