Freedom – the price and the value #Libya #auspol


What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Oscar Wilde, in Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892)

It has been fascinating to watch the progress of the various revolutions in north Africa and the middle east, in particular the travails of the Libyan people trying to oust the long-standing dictator Gaddafi.

Unlike the other countries in the region, the Libyan dictator has a strong army and he is not afraid to use the full might of his arms against his own people.

In Libya we are seeing people rise up against a tyrant and face arms to achieve their freedom. They are weighing up the price and the value of their freedom in important ways.

It has got me thinking about how one might value freedom and what price one might be willing to pay to achieve it.

In Australia we are divorced from harsh realities like this. We live in a wealthy nation with high levels of education, low levels of unemployment and a working democracy. For many of us our main problem is what kind of plasma television to get next time. These are first world problems.

Our politicians argue about relative trivialities. And now we have both sides of politics in Australia polarising and calling for so-called Peoples’ Revolution.

I think that this kind of polarisation is one of stupidest ways to attempt to create a positive future for Australia. We need to create shared values and agreed common ground in the middle. We need to build consensus and have our politicians work together on that common ground in a bi-partisan way.

This current political climate of negativity, anger, personal attacks, slurs and invective does help us to create a positive future for Australia. Nor does it model good behaviour for our young people.

It’s time for the moderates to stand up and be counted.


Freedom – price or cost?


Many people have told me that freedom has a price. While others have told me that freedom has a cost. It got me thinking about the difference between a price and a cost.

While pondering about this I recalled the Oscar Wilde quote: “A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.”
Perhaps value is only perceived in relative rather than in absolute terms? How do we know freedom is a good thing unless we know that repression exists? Freedom is precious. But the true value of freedom is only known in relation to un-freedom.

Starting with a dictionary, the definitions are:

Price: “agreed exchange value, that will purchase a definite quantity, weight, or other measure of a good or service”

Cost: An amount paid or required in payment for a purchase; a price. Or the expenditure of something, such as time or labor, necessary for the attainment of a goal.

Thus it seems that both groups of people are right when they talk about freedom. It has an agreed exchange value (a.k.a. price), which is the expenditure of something (a.k.a. cost) to attain a goal.

But since freedom is not tangible (sometimes it is easier to see freedom by its absence) and it can easily be whittled away without us noticing.

Freedom is under attack all over the world. Rules, laws, things meant to protect us all chip away at freedom. Each little chip has a plausible reason, when taken in isolation. However, the sum total of the overall pattern is reduction in freedom.

What have you done today to defend, protect or extend freedom?  What is the price of freedom?  And what cost are you willing to bear?