Listen to or Read Neil Oliver's Commentary on Freedom as We Face Covid Tyranny. Absorb Every Word.
For me, it’s all and only about freedom. For me without freedom, there is no point in anything. So take away all the numbers, all the statistics, all the models and predictions, all the promises and threats; all the steel hand in velvet glove coercion. Take all of that away. To me, it all boils down to something simple.
I declare that I am a free man.
I was born 54 years ago into part of the world, just a relatively small part of the world, where I was taught that my freedom had been won for me by men and women who had fought and died to make it so. I was born just 22 years after World War II, into a world still full of those men and women who had fought for my freedom and lived to tell the tale.
And what a tale it was. It had started with the sudden appearance of a force bent on tyranny. Of course, the sudden appearance was an optical illusion. In truth, that force had been on the rise and making plans for years before it was ready to pull the trigger. It's worth remembering that that force believed it was poised to make the world a better place-- a glorious place.
When that force started moving it seemed nothing could or would stop it. And in the beginning of the fight to prevent the victory of that tyranny, it was a minority -- a minority outgunned and shouted down by fellow citizens -- who feared that deals might be struck with tyranny, that stood up and shouted no. English writer Mervyn Peake said, "To live at all is miracle enough."
It’s a good line and I’ve quoted it for years, but now I see merely to live at all is not enough, not nearly. A caged bird is alive but without the freedom to fly in the limitless sky, it is denied everything that makes a bird in the first place. To be alive is not enough. What matters is to live in freedom. A bird is such a fragile creature. It's really all and only about movement. Take away a bird’s movement and it’s a handful of feathers and air.
Freedom is not negotiable. You’re either free or you’re not.
Freedom is not even safe. Those who’ve been imprisoned are often terrified of freedom. All those choices, all of our personal responsibility. This is why ex-cons often reoffend, so they can go back behind bars where it feels safer, out of harm’s way.
I have three children. They're growing up fast. Teenagers all. Often, I think I would like to keep them close by me forever, where I can stop them from doing stupid things, dangerous things. If I kept them in the house no stranger would hurt them, but that would be no life. Not for them and not even for me. I would be their jailer and they would be my caged birds.
As it happens, this past year-and-a-half has let me see what happens to children kept safe in the house. It is not good, it is not good at all. And so if I didn’t know it before, I know now that I have to let them go into a world that is full of all manner of things, danger included.
Here’s the thing, if your freedom means that I might catch COVID from you, then so be it. If my freedom means you might catch COVID from me then so be it. That’s honestly how I see it. For the sake of freedom, yours and mine together, I will cheerfully risk catching COVID.
That is a chance. One among many that I am prepared to take and happily. Life is not safe, freedom is not safe. For the sake of freedom, yours and mine together, both freedoms being of equal value, I will cheerfully risk much else besides.
It is the summertime now, the time to remember the Battle of Britain. The part of the story that moves me most of all has Churchill in Oxbridge in the operations room of #11 Group, tasked with defending London and the Southeast. The sky above them is thick with fighter planes and bombers. Churchill asks Air Vice Marshall Keith Park about the reserves, how many planes and pilots he has as backup, ready to take the place of those already committed. "Every aircraft and man we have is in the air now," said Park. "There is no reserve."
Those Spitfires and Hurricanes were piloted by men and also by boys not long out of school. They risked everything for freedom. Mine and yours. A last measure of devotion.
I can't be sure, but I don't think they fought and died so that the government might seize that freedom like a deck of cards, dealing them out one by one to those deemed deserving. I think they fought for unconditional freedom for every man, woman, and child. That's what I think.
I've been reading about people calling other people who have not chosen to take the vaccine, "Plague Rats." I've read about people calling for those Plague Rats to be rounded up and locked away out of sight.
There's another Battle of Britain being fought now. It is being fought by a minority, outgunned and shouted down, by those who would accept freedom handed to them by MPs on condition they do as they are told. That's not freedom, that is tyranny. And I for one will not live under that yoke.
As I have done all my life, I salute the few. I hope to see you on the other side.