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Real Freedom

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Our home in Saint Croix Cove, Nova Scotia -1971

Many of today’s protesters assume that liberty or freedom means the right to do whatever you chose. That is far from what the framers of the US Constitution had in mind. The idea of a social contract was part of their deliberations. Like all contracts, even a social contract has two sides to it.

“Liberty implies the absence of arbitrary restraint, not immunity from reasonable regulations and prohibitions imposed in the interest of the community.”

Congress long ago determined those reasonable regulations are the foundation of today’s social contract between the governed and the government. It might behoove those protesting against the “tyranny of wearing masks” or their employers requiring them to be vaccinated to read a little more before they trivialize the words “lost freedom” by equating it with the requirement to wear a mask to keep from infecting another citizen.

One of the ideas behind our freedoms is the freedom to contract which has its roots in the belief that if you do not like the rules one state is imposing on you, that you have the absolute right to uproot yourself and your family and move to another state where the rules are more to your liking. It is an idea that in theory makes our federalism stronger and more resilient. Different states have different rules within the bounds of the US Constitution. If you do not want anyone to force you to wear a mask, consider a move to Florida.

The reality is far different than the theory. Many people do not have the freedom to choose to live in a different state or even county. Everything from the lack of transportation to no money in the bank for a move prevents the theory from being a reality. Moving is not easy. While the number of people who have never moved is certainly less than it was fifty years ago, there are still people who live and die within a few miles of where they were born.

If we asked people to go to war to defend the right not to wear masks, I seriously doubt that we would get enough volunteers to continue to fill the ranks of our volunteer-only military. What has happened today is that because of the unwillingness of a number of citizens to take their responsibilities to other citizens seriously, we have already seen the lost of substantial freedoms.

Fifty years ago this August, I exercised one of the most precious freedoms of all, the freedom to move from one country to another without arbitrary rules making it impossible. In early August of 1971, I got on a ferry in Bar Harbor, Maine, and rode it to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. At the ferry terminal, I was granted the status of Landed Immigrant. I had on a prior trip earlier that summer purchased 140 acres, a house, and barn for the princely sum of the $6,000 US.

For the next sixteen years, I lived in Canada, brought a new bride up from the United States and worked through the process for her to also become a landed immigrant. We had a farm with 200 head of Angus cattle and in 1984, I went to work for Apple in Canada. Our three children were born in Canada. In 1987 our family moved back to the United States. Still a part of me will always be Canadian because of how we became part of the communities where we lived and the great respect I developed for the Canadian people that were part of my life.

I chose to move to Canada because of cheap land, the same thing that brought many settlers to the United States. We came back home because we missed our families and the chance for corporate advancement appeared better in the United States than it did in Toronto.

Today, what I did in the seventies would be impossible. Currently, though that might change soon, there is no travel between Canada and the United States. Fewer people today have the advantages that I did, no college debt and family support to chase a dream of farming. Moving from country to country is not so easy and hasn’t been for a long time. Even Canada is much harder and paces like New Zealand have made it very difficult if not impossible.

I like to think that I have known real freedom and it has nothing to do with mask or vaccination requirements. If these requirements are so important, I suggest you look for a state where you will feel more comfortable.  That is the way it is supposed to work. 


September 17, 2021

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January 02, 2017