Tomorrow is October 23rd. On that day 24 years ago, my family landed in Canada, after an epic escape from Communist Czechoslovakia 15 months earlier. Earlier this summer, I started a web site that chronicles that journey. You can read it at http://freedom-25.ca/.
I had to take a break because of a perfect storm of events. Remembering and writing about the events of 1989 is highly emotional and sometimes painful. But a bunch of other developments caused my mind to go into an endless feedback loop, putting me in a severe depression. While the worst only lasted a few weeks, I have had okay days and bad days ever since, and I have only recently started functioning ‘normally’ (whatever that means).
Eventually, one has to decide which of the three possible reactions to take (freeze, flee, fight). On the eve on the 24th anniversary of my coming to this wonderful country, I am terrified of what is becoming of it. Over the years, I’ve had countless conversations with people about the concept of freedom, what it means on personal level and for the society at large. While it’s an abstract, intangible concept, it has far reaching consequences for the way we conduct our lives. For me, coming to Canada was primarily about one thing: I did not my family to live in fear, but I was concerned with the little signs that the tide of totalitarianism is quietly rising here. In those conversations, one of the constants has been that people who grew up in Canada (or most western democracies) had no clue what I was talking about.
Then, last month, I finally realized why. I took a tracking course as part of my Search and Rescue training. It’s about tracking a lost or missing person in the wilderness, learning to observe and interpret the signs that person leaves as it walks through nature. Being a relative newbie to the subject, I was amazed at the skill of our instructors. The smallest details that they would notice, and how it helped them to find a line of sign where I saw none. And then it dawned at me that the reason why people who didn’t experience the oppression of a police state are blind to the signs I had been talking about. They were like a newbie tracker, who has not been trained to read the signs.
Now of course, with the revelations about out governments’ and corporations wholesale spying on its own citizens, the whole business of freedom, privacy and security has come to the light. And sooner or later, every single one of you will have to make that choice – freeze, flee, or fight.
As for me, I have a plan, and it doesn’t include Facebook. I am posting this because it would unfair to my friends to not let them know (well, you people probably know already, but it has not sunk in yet). I am going to move my net presence out of social media, and my posting will be minimal (seeing how long this post has become, most people will probably see that as a good thing).
Citizens of the world, our freedoms are under attack. Wake up and stop paying attention to the pointless and trivial. If you think you can save the whales (figuratively speaking) while Big Brother is watching, you are wrong. I am not invoking George Orwell lightly – the reality is that we have very little privacy left, while our thoughts are constantly shaped and massaged by lying politicians and unelected bureaucrats. It’s wrong, and we have to fight for what is left.
Let me finish with two quotes by a great thinker, a scientist and a statesman, Benjamin Franklin:
Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins.
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
I wish myself a good 24th anniversary, and the rest of you good night.