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Freedom and friendship


"There is a disease that is always part of tyranny – to never be able to trust a friend" (Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 226-227).

It seems to us that the news from Pakistan, Britain, and America shares themes of freedom that are deeply personal.

In English the original meaning of the word free is dear or beloved. The word friend shares the same root as free (Oxford English Dictionary). This early meaning of free suggests two different ideas – one, that freedom is something we want for people we care about and two, that we can never achieve it alone.

Freedom is created, sustained, and protected in community by men and women who believe in fair play, try to tell the truth, appreciate reason, and respect and trust each other. These are some of the qualities we love in our friends. People who share these qualities – and who could build a friendship on these qualities if they met each other – are the foundation of a free country. Fellow citizens who love what we love - freedom and justice - and defend them are friends in freedom.

It goes almost without saying that when we are free we are free in some country. Countries - not tribes and not empires - have been the natural places for creating freedom. Because countries are limited in geographic size and numbers of people, individual voices are not lost, ignored or smothered. Countries that are free allow for the possibility of friendship and contain many friends and circles of friends. They also contain many more people who are strangers to each other but could be friends. They look at things the same way and believe in the same fundamental principles of respect and reason, truth telling and fair play. Though they are strangers, like friends they trust each other to do the right thing. They trust each other to defend freedom.

Creating a free country is difficult. It requires enormous courage. It needs friends prepared to give their lives for it.

That sounds grim, but personal accounts say that it is exhilarating.

Continued in the Freedom Network, Part 2

Note - I didn't get this post right the first time round, and I may try again.