[This article was originally posted on a now inactive Hub Pages account. It is re-published here by the author.]
As I walk through the country my soul is softened by the natural environment. The most profound thoughts of my life have occurred during these times of solitude. I notice the life around me and the struggle for it to continue. Plants attached to nothing more than rocks extend roots deep into any crevice offering anchorage. Plants of the cactus family have waxed 'leaves' to funnel any moisture to the root system below for recovery, storage and incremental use by the plant. Long drought periods can be survived in this manner. Lizards scurry about pausing in any shade that provides a brief respite from the direct summer sun. Trees shut down large portions of the canopy and enter an almost hibernation mode to minimize the energy needed to survive through tough conditions. What these observations invoke in me is a realization that the life around me is an example of...freedom. "How, sir, can life which is a slave to its' environment be free?" A very astute question indeed.
Can life be free if it is completely enslaved by the environment in which it exists? While it seems that this question should solicit the obvious answer of 'No' as the question itself acknowledges enslavement, a closer examination and observation elicit another possible answer. A man who is dropped into the wild with no assistance or contact with the outside world may be bewildered, but no one would doubt that he is free. He is free because the consequences of his actions from that point on are entirely of his own making. The laws of physics and chance still hold power over him as it does in all of the known universe. But his ability to survive, excel and reap rewards of his labor are directly related to the energy, thought and ingenuity he puts forth to the effort. What makes him free, regardless of the limitations of his surroundings is that physical law doesn't change. He can see, hear, smell and otherwise perceive the conditions of the place in which he now resides. Once the limitations of this environment are realized he knows exactly what he is up against and may respond accordingly. In this environment, he is rewarded for positive labor and keen observation and intellectual responses to such. He is punished for sloth; and failure to recognize and respond to possible danger may carry the ultimate price. But he is free. Free to decide for himself how fruitful or generic his life will be. Some of the greatest inventions of mankind were realized in circumstances of Man overcoming his natural environment. Indeed, life enslaved to its' physical environment is nevertheless free to respond to that environment and either reap the reward or receive the punishment for those responses.
So what is the purpose of this intellectual exercise? The purpose is to understand that freedom and liberty are innate characteristics of the human condition. Man yearns to be free, not because of selfish desires to escape his destiny. The opposite is true, he yearns to be free to realize his destiny. Therefore, this condition...liberty...is to be protected at all costs. It is ony by way of liberty that we can reach the full potential of this glorious life we have been blessed to receive. Groups of humans must have limitations on behavior for the protection of our innocent neighbor, an unfortunate byproduct of free will. However, we must be ever diligent to minimize this control. Imagine if silly zoning restrictions prevented a few guys in a garage from developing the personal computer as we know it today. Imagine if environmental concerns had stifled the invention of the internal combustion engine. Imagine if restrictions and regulations had prevented the development of vaccines for polio, measles and many other devastating diseases. Our nation has achieved untold wealth and prosperity which has been primarily used to diminish hunger, disease and tyranny worldwide. Billions...yes, billions of people live better freer and more fruitful lives because of the foresight of a handful of men and women who yearned to be free, and pledged their fortunes, property and lives to that end. We have been given this torch of freedom to pass on to the next generation. Let us protect it's light, warmth and inspiration with our fortunes, property and lives, that future generations unknown to us will reach their glorious human potential.
by: Keith D. Rodebush
by: Keith D. Rodebush