“Creating Our Own Freedom”

Part of feeling OK is feeling reasonably confident in FDR’s “four freedoms:” freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

For the past three-quarters of a century, at least those of us in the West have become accustomed to our governments providing these freedoms reasonably (and, often, progressively) well.

Freedoms of speech and religion are still largely intact. But freedom from want and fear is not being adequately managed by governments — certainly not at the national level.

That leads to a few predictions:

First, government (and/or political theater, which is often confused for government) may continue to be a source of want or fear for some citizens for some time. The upside looks limited, but we still have to be alert to the enormous downside risks that only governments can run. (Trade wars, shutdowns, and shooting wars are good examples.)

Second, the future is local and networked. We’ll never forget the experience of globalization, but communities will have to band together in order to deal with global competition and social anomie.

Third, that means a lot more of us will have to take responsibility for “creating our own freedom,” as a friend of mine calls it. Utopianism — communist, isolationist, survivalist, or any other variety — isn’t really a viable option. Instead, we’ll have to create the practical freedoms of socially networked, effectively governed, and economically sufficient communities.

Taking out our fear on our neighbors won’t bring the old jobs or the old times back. But learning to know and work with our neighbors might make life livable and worth living.