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Freedom is not Free

Posted on March 6, 2022 at 4:30 PM

If nothing else, the events in Ukraine remind us, and I quote, that "Freedom is not free."

Historically, the cost has been one of vigilance and, when necessary, sacrifice. The battle for freedom has many forms and scales, from epic battles etched in a nation's ethos to the individual act of courage as simple as seeking equality in where one sits on the bus. If one looks at the arc of history, the battle has always been with us and scales both large and small.

Bruce Springsteen, in his classic song "The Ghost of Tom Joad" based on the Steinbeck character of the same name, hauntingly writes: 

Shelter line stretching around the corner

Welcome to the new world order

Families sleeping in the cars in the southwest

No home, no job, no peace, no rest ……

Now Tom said, "Mom, wherever there's a cop beating a guy

Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries

Where there's a fight against the blood and hatred in the air

Look for me, Mom, I'll be there


Wherever somebody's fighting for a place to stand

Or a decent job or a helping hand

Wherever somebody's struggling to be free

Look in their eyes, Ma, and you'll see me"


Well the highway is alive tonight

But nobody's kidding nobody about where it goes

I'm sitting down here in the campfire light

With the ghost of old Tom Joad

As millions flee an advancing army in the Ukraine and countrymen and women stand to face that army or as individuals in the grips of poverty battle the lack of opportunity and discrimination in our own cities, one has to acknowledge where the "highway" leads. Freedom is not free.

Freedom on a national or individual scale, be it on the plains of Ukraine or the street of Philadelphia demand a similar response. There is "no home, no job, no peace, and no rest" without freedom.

It is a response that comes at a cost, but more importantly, it acknowledges that a free and just society requires individual and collective investment, commitment, sacrifice, and vigilance. That we must recognize that our self-interest starts with our neighbors, all our neighbors, be they in Philadelphia, Moscow, Kyiv, or thousand other towns around the world.

Freedom is about access to opportunity, equality, a vote in the process of governance, and justice for all of us, not just a few. It is a universal challenge.

We honor the men and women of our armed services who defend the constitution. But the clarion call of freedom requires that "whenever somebody is struggling to be free," we all respond.

Freedom is not free. And the alternative comes at an unacceptable cost and consequence, but know it will come.

So when are we going to pay up?




Categories: Muddy Boots, Griffith Thoughts, Leadership

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