The price of Freedom


There is quite a bit of public discussion these days on freedom. We, as Americans are finding that our constitutional freedoms are under attack in various ways. I am very thankful we have soldiers who are on the front lines to protect those freedoms. But what about our own personal freedom? What are we doing to protect our own freedoms?

I am not talking about constitutional freedoms. I am talking about personal freedom: where to go; what to think; tasks to do. Many of these decisions are not threatened from without. They are threatened from within. The pressure is on: Things to accomplish; people to see; objects to own; goals to reach.

As a former high school teacher, then principal, I have seen many young people squander their personal freedom for a temporary emotional ‘fix’. The ‘fix’ might have been alcohol. It may have been drugs. It may have been rebellion against authority. The results were always the same: The consequences differed in intensity, but freedom was lost.

As a naturopath, I see people squandering their freedom daily. Mental, emotional, and physical freedoms are sacrificed daily on the altar of convenience and taste. GMO and high fructose syrup offerings are readily available, and they are quite inexpensive. More importantly, they taste great and have an addictive component. Healthy alternatives are somewhat more expensive, take very much more time to prepare, and just don’t seem to satisfy the taste buds we have cultivated. Social service professionals hear every day from the single parent who cannot afford to feed her children unless she shops at the ‘dollar menu’ of the various fast-food establishments.

I remember years ago, when fat-free desserts came on the market. I was so excited that there was (in most cases) an alternative dessert that tasted good, and was not full of calories. Little did I understand then that the chemicals in these desserts were very much more detrimental to my health than the pure cane sugar sweets that I was used to. Because I had cultivated a sweet tooth, I needed to satisfy it. I was not smart enough to know that the marketing was pushing me towards less healthy choices. I did not know that HFCS was addictive, and had far-reaching health consequences.

Ignorance is not bliss. What you don’t know can kill you. This is how our personal freedoms are being eroded: ignorance. As a society, we do not read. We do not research. Some of the latest statistics I read state that the global reading level is at the eighth grade. As such, the media puts news into thirty-second sound bites, and most people do not research any further. We get our information in flashes and blurbs. Very rarely do adults stop and think. Where is Paul Harvey’s ‘the rest of the story?”

Moms rush through the grocery store, excited about the pre-prepared offerings in the store, knowing that their schedules are crammed to the breaking point. Any time-saving measures are welcome. Patients hear the savvy commercial on the latest wonder drug. I am not sure they hear the last part about the side effect, “including death.’ Students are so busy ‘doing’ that they do not have the time to just ‘be.’ The pressure builds until they reach for the drug/alcohol/chemicals that will give them relief. Those who don’t reach for substances, react in rebellious destructive behavior. All of these choices lead to loss of freedom. Security and stability are sacrificed at the altar of instant gratification.

Many times, it comes down to a matter of quality vs. quantity. We are so busy with quantity, that we sacrifice quality. Eventually, we run into a situation of diminishing returns. We have a great deal of everything, but lose what really matters.

We all have choices. We can choose the fuel that we put into our bodies. We can choose to divest ourselves of toxic relationships. We can choose people over things. It is time that we take a hard look at our choices. Are we making good ones? Do we count the cost? Are we choosing the immediate and foregoing the necessary? Just how ‘free’ are we?

Until next time,

Dr. Polly