Is the lockdown making freedom a privilege?

4개월 전

You know, living in Venezuela and facing the problems that I have had to face during the last years of political turbulence, economic crisis and social uncertainty, I have come to learn many things. Some very specific things about me, about other people, about the country, etc., and also some other more general things that apply more universally and that teach about any other crisis. There are two things that I have learned, from this latter group, that I remember every time people talk about all this discussion about normality, the new normal, or going back to the normal. The first is that you should never take what you have for granted, you can lose everything, even things that you did not know you had, and most of the time you don't know the value of those things until you lose them. This is very repetitive, of course, it is a stereotype that everyone knows but that is still true. We had a greater freedom than we have now, which we failed to appreciate when we had it, and which now that we have lost it we yearn to have it again. We took that freedom for granted and most did not even suspect that it could lose it, but we have done it, and we have realized that is true the old maxim that says that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

Nor is it that we enjoyed absolute freedom, but we failed to appreciate the little freedom we had. We can still value the one we have, without that meaning that we are going to settle, head down, with just that.

And the second thing that all this discussion about going back to the normal makes me think about is how anything, even the most basic and common, can become a privilege. And I will give an example, because in Venezuela there are power failures all the time, and also failures with the water supply, this causes that a person can spend several hours a day, several days in a row, without electricity, and whole days without any water in the tap. This is the most common thing in the world here. This makes even living in a place with constant access to water and electricity a true privilege. So there is nothing, no matter how basic, that cannot be turned into a privilege in the right circumstances. When we talk about the lockdown, we see that it is becoming more and more a privilege to live normally, lead a normal life, live without so many restrictions and state intervention in your life, telling you what you can do, and what not, and how you should do it. Well, freedom was a privilege in times of serfdom, where only aristocrats were free by rights and everyone else was servants of the state.

Since we are heading into a world in which normality (which is that little freedom that with so much effort we have conquered in the last centuries) is increasingly a privilege, the question may be asked: What will we do about it?


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