At the crux of the novel y1 is the importance of personal freedom. The right to be who you are, and to enjoy your own life in the ways that you choose, form the very backbone of the story.
And yet when I search the news for articles on personal freedom (I like to search on themes that interest me) I inevitably end up at sites with a socially conservative slant (and some with a very conservative slant). “Freedom” seems to be the operative word here. It is a word that is owned more by the right, along with concepts like patriotism and hard work. Yet arguably much of the agenda of the left has less to do with funding public radio and taxing the rich then it does with securing the rights of all individuals, including those who have been traditionally denied those freedoms that we all cherish.
I was interested to read the table below, printed on the Forbes website here, and from the Fraser Institute’s new book “Towards a Worldwide Index of Human Freedom” produced in partnership with the Liberales Institut in Germany and the Cato Institute in the United States, and edited by the Fraser Institute’s Fred McMahon. You may be surprised at how low the US ranks (we all thought we’d be number one, right?), and by who else is in the top ten. Denmark, by the way, also shows up as one of the happiest countries in the world (see my post on world happiness here). These folks are clearly doing something correct over there.
Can we agree across the political spectrum that life in Zimbabwe must be bleak indeed? I think that we can. How about agreeing that the right to pursue individual happiness is a valued treasure and we hope that our nation remains committed to this ideal? Yes, we can probably all agree on that as well. Do we all always agree on the best ways to maximize individual freedom? No, we don’t. But agreeing about what we do value strikes me as an excellent beginning for cooperation.
And, by the way …… us moderate liberals also tend to have a fair amount of patriotism ourselves and to be willing and able to work hard to keep our society strong. After all, these are our liberties we are talking about here too.