Do We Have Freedom and Independence Today?

I’ve been thinking about freedom. What is it? Do we have it? 

They say information is power and that those who have the information have the power. This must be why the government and corporations try to get information on us. It means more power for them 

Governments and companies are trying to find ways to tap into our private lives. They want to know about our business and private lives, our medical records, our bank accounts, and whatever is important to us.  

Computers have made it easier for them to do all this. Big business has created huge collections of information about what people buy and and how they live. The government keeps a lot of information on us too.  

In “customer cards” and “savings cards” that stores use, there are even tracking systems to monitor customers’ purchases. Some people have a microchip put under their dog’s or cat’s skin to help identify the animal if it is lost or stolen. And the Columbia University School of Journalism’s online magazine reported earlier this year about a company that is already selling ID microchips for use in humans. So far, the chips are used mostly for medical information on people with serious health problems. But how else will they be used? And how would that affect our freedom? 

With technology like this, the people who control the technology will know everything about everyone and no one else will even know that they know it.  

While big business learns more about us, we know less about big business. That isn’t right. For example, a bank is a stranger who wants to keep money for you. Think about the board that runs that bank, for instance. We don’t know who those guys are.  

When you think about it, you cannot trust anybody bust yourself. So independence is a very important thing.  

Being homeless is very hard. I’ve been on the streets homeless for six years now. It’s hard to start from scratch, with nothing. But when you’re homeless, in one way you’re free and independent. Everybody has got his own idea of freedom. For example, look at bikers. The way I see it, hey seem like they have freedom and independence. They look like they don’t have a care in the world, and they can go anywhere they want in the U.S. You might say they have true freedom. I like that concept of freedom. They have a motorcycle and the freedom to go. In some ways I would like to have that freedom too, like the bikers have.  

In my opinion, the frontier was the only taste of freedom American have had. When we had the 13 colonies you could go out on your own. I don’t know much about how it was back then, but I know there was open land. And freedom was there! Out on the frontier, you might have had to fight for the land, but at least you had freedom. The government couldn’t control things everywhere like they do now. If you want that independent freedom today for yourself or your family, you will have to fight hard to get it.  

So I missed that freedom. And we can’t get it back. We don’t have the land, and we don’t have the money. And you have got to have the money. But how are you going to get the money? Even when you have a job, it’s not enough to get that independence and freedom.  

How can we get that frontier back? And how can we get back that freedom? 

Joseph Walker has been a Street Sense vendor for the last three months and is working hard to get off the streets.  

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