Roads to Freedom
We could write volumes about freedom. On September 29, I posted “Seven Theses on Freedom,” as expressed by Dr. Ulrich Wacker of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.
Today, I will go to oppostive extreme of German rigor to share some reflections from the third “Caminos de la Libertad (Roads to Freedom)” essay contest winners.
Why an Essay Contest About Freedom?
Freedom is the essential characteristic that distinguishes humans from other species. However, efforts to limit it have become systematic in many countries. According to Daniel Dennett, freedom is lost little by little; it unnoticeable; it’s an amputation that doesn’t hurt, but strikes at our very essence. When they want to amputate an arm or a foot, we don’t let them, so,why do we allow them to steal our freedom?
To protect this essential part of ourselves, Grupo Salinas organized this essay contest with the premise that thought is the most powerful weapon to protect freedom. We must be free to express ourselves and defend our liberties.
A good idea is like a seed that with time and care will bear great fruit. “Caminos de la Libertad” is a tree that is beginning to bear transcendental fruit, and for this third contest, we received 630 essays from 13 different countries.
“Whosoever lives in fear shall never be free.”
Horace’s words continue to be timely in the twenty-first century because each and every one of us needs to continue fighting for every inch of our freedom. We must leave behind fears and gather the courage to commit ourselves to the construction of a freer society.
It is true that throughout history, we have advanced a great deal with freedom. But it is also true that many governments continue trying to block future advances. We have recently experienced important setbacks in this area, which we need to overcome.
Many politicians and bureaucrats decide from up above which freedoms are appropriate for citizens. They are liberals in name only who betray the principles of freedom at the first opportunity. We must always be vigilant.
Today, there is a lot of celebration of the roads to freedom peoples follow throughout history. In our case, they mention the year 1810. We just celebrated our struggle for freedom from the yoke of the Spaniards —although this wasn’t actually the case, because what we were trying to avoid was the domination of Napoleon. But if we analyze things more carefully, our country has never really been free; we do not have a liberal history.
During Mexico’s 2006 elections, there was a broad political debate and a lot of well-founded criticism, but the parties and their leaders decided that such an intense debate was not in their interests. So, in 2007, they decided on an electoral reform that is a major step backward in many of the areas in which we had gained freedom of expression and other civic rights.
But that pales in the face of the loss of the most important freedom of all: the right to life. Today we see that our lives are in danger, and government agencies are incapable of protecting their citizens from murder and violence.
Now is the time to fight for our freedom. At Grupo Salinas, we agree completely with Jean Paul Sartre when he says that “man is condemned to freedom”. This is why we are promoting this essay contest: in a world where new forms of authoritarianism are constantly emerging, nothing is more important than inviting the most brilliant minds to defend our right to be free.