TODAY -

E-Pao! Essays - Freedom

Freedom
By: Anonymous Singh*

Freedom For those of us staying in Manipur who have forgotten what freedom means, this article tries to remind you what it means and what should be the role of government in preserving this freedom. If this article does not bring freedom to the people of Manipur, it will at least make you understand what it is and feel it.

I have taken a lot of material for this article from Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom. I would suggest that all those people reading this article also read this book (although not an interesting one) to know what freedom really means. I have taken the freedom not to cite what he has written to make sure that the flow of the article is maintained. What a good way to start an article about freedom - not quoting someone's work.

An individual regards government as a means, an instrumentality, neither a grantor of favors and gifts, nor a master or god to be blindly worshipped and served. To a free man, the country is the collection of individuals who compose it, not something over and above them. Is this what really is happening in Manipur? In Manipur, government is a grantor of favors and gifts. The people always wait for the government to do something for them -If I get a PMRY loan that would be a gift to me by the government. I can live without even repaying the loan. The government is something over and above the people in Manipur. We don't mind being stopped and harassed by a policeman or an army personal. We also don't mind the draconian laws being imposed on us. We will never speak a word if beaten by army personal. Keeping quiet is our tradition.

The free man will ask neither what his country can do for him nor what he can do for his country. He will ask rather "What can I and my compatriots do through government" to help us discharge our individual responsibilities, to achieve our several goals and purposes, and above all to protect our freedom? He will accompany this question with another: How can we keep the government we create from becoming a Frankenstein (an agency or creation that slips from the control of and ultimately destroys its creator) that will destroy the very freedom we establish it to protect? Our minds tell us, and history confirms that the great threat to freedom is the concentration of power. Does history confirms it or the present situation in Manipur confirms it? It is a million dollar question.

Government is necessary to preserve our freedom, it is an instrument through which we can exercise our freedom; yet by concentrating power in political hands, it is also a threat to freedom. Even though the men who wield this power may, initially be of good will and even though they may not be corrupted by the power they exercise, the power will both attract and form men of a different stamp. Men who wield this power in Manipur are not of good will and they are corrupted by power. The power had already attracted them and had made them men of a different stamp. Hunger for power never stops in Manipur even at the cost of mocking at democracy. Since the men who wield this power in Manipur are corrupted by power and not of good will, our freedom is not preserved. The power is concentrated in the political hands and the arm forces. Instead of people exercising their freedom, it's the other way round, the arm forces, government and the militants exercise their freedom while people's freedom is not considered at all.

And again, absolute freedom is impossible. If people are dreaming of absolute freedom, the following message is to those people - Men's freedom can conflict, and when they do, one man's freedom must be limited to preserve another's - "My freedom to move my fist must be limited by the proximity of your chin." Right now, the militants and arm forces do not consider where the other person's chin is at, rather they find the other person's chin and move their fist so that the other person's freedom to live is destroyed.

One man's freedom to murder his neighbor must be sacrificed to preserve the freedom of the other man to live. The arm forces and the militants do not sacrifice their freedom to murder, as a result, the freedom of other man to live is not preserved. So to preserve the freedom of all of us let us stop the killings - militants should stop killing of the security forces to preserve their freedom and the security forces should stop killing the militants to preserve their freedom. And both the groups - security force and militant groups - should stop killing and torturing the public to preserve the people's freedom. mind.


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