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Freedom: the condition of not being subject to the control of any other. What does it mean to you to be free? What is a threat to your freedom? Do not take your freedom for granted; fight tooth and nail to preserve it. There are many who stand to profit from slowly and secretly, or suddenly and overtly restricting your freedom. Are you on the lookout for such people and do you scrutinize the justifications for every limit to your freedom? Are you consciously aware of what freedoms we are striving for… (e.g. Assembly/movement, speech, religion, the press, choice, information)? Conversely, are you consciously aware of what negativity we all want to be free from (such as the constants)? Does freedom ride in the same carriage with moral responsibility, our observations and how we act upon them, and the creed for life that we all should develop?

Freedom is not free. Often, Americans perceive freedom as an entitlement that is automatically bestowed on us at birth. Generally, we overlook or ignore the many hard-fought battles in our nation’s history that serve as evidence of the high cost of freedom. This cost often includes sacrifice, blood and death. Yet, one does not need to look that far back in time to realize freedom’s color runs red. Although one might believe that the Iraq war (2003-2011) secured democracy and freedom for the Iraqi people, recent headlines beg to differ. Recent parliamentary elections, the first since American troops were brought home, have been met with extreme violence. According to the BBC, “there were around 50 attacks on the election process around the country including mortar fire directed at polling stations and roadside bombs timed to kill men and women on their way to vote.” Iraq deaths number 160 in the last week with a grand total of about 2000 deaths in the first three months of this year. Certainly, ongoing street battles in Ramadi and in the insurgent stronghold of Falluja have contributed to the death toll and worked to limit the Iraqi people’s freedom of choice. The BBC reports that increased security measures, such as the banning of automobiles in Bagdad and increased searches at polling places have been put in place to avert further violence. Indeed, many of the twenty-two million Iraqis who are eligible to vote in this election understand that freedom isn’t free. As one Iraqi voter whose son was recently killed in a bombing said, “We want a better life for our sons and grandchildren . . . . We want a better life for all Iraqis.” The want for a better life is, without a doubt, a sentiment that is shared by Iraqis, Americans, and many others throughout the world. Yet, the low voter turnout in U.S. elections and our willingness to allow our freedom to be permanently limited by our government (e.g. our right to privacy under the patriot act) raises questions concerning the degree to which Americans value freedom. Is it possible that we have forgotten its high cost?