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Austin Texas February 2021



There could be only one result . . . If men insisted on being free from the burden of a life that was self-dependent and also responsible for the common good, they would cease to be free at all. Responsibility was the price every man must pay for freedom. It was to be had on no other terms.

Edith Hamilton, The Echo of Greece [1957]



I was looking for a song to play for this week’s Sunday Morning Music and I stumbled across a Chris Rea song from the 1980’s, from an album of his that I listened to quite often back in the day. I searched the blog’s archives to make sure I hadn’t played it before or too recently.

I found that the last time I used a Chris Rea song here was last April. It was the title song, The Road to Hell, and it was used in a blog post about how people were using the word freedom in those early days of the pandemic as an excuse for refusing to accept any responsibility or accountability to their fellow citizens. For example, their right to get their hair cut–or wear a mask, god forbid!– was greater than any responsibility they held for the safety and welfare of those folks that they came in touch with.

In that post I employed some quotes from the late Classicist scholar/mythologist Edith Hamilton that described the lack of responsibility and accountability that marked the downfall of the Athenian empire. There was the quote at the top along with this:

When the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.

Her words really struck me last April in that it was the same shirking of duty and responsibility that we have been experiencing here in recent times, a trend that really stood out during our time of greatest need. People wanted to say they were free but only with the implication that it meant that they were free from all, responsibility, accountability, empathy, or conscience. 

That might be some sort of libertarian wet dream but that ain’t freedom, folks. At least, not for a country as wide and as varied as we are.

I’ve said it before: Freedom ain’t free.

Reading this blog post from last year reminded me of the situation that has been taking place in Texas. Now, I don’t claim to know all the intricacies of Texas power ( or political power) system so I can’t really make any informed commentary but it sure seems like what took place in recent times there pretty much lined up with Edith Hamilton’s words.

Put plainly, people entrusted to provide necessary services grabbed all the cash they could while doing as little as possible to maintain or improve the system or to accept any sort of personal responsibility for the citizenry they served.

The privatized power system was a cash cow that was there to be milked until it fell over and died. Then they thought they could simply walk away, buckets of cash in hand.

That’s how it looks to me but like I said, I don’t jack about what really goes on down there. But privatizing something so important as the power system without having a mechanism for accountability seems like a recipe for disaster. And this disaster, while labeled as a natural disaster, was more of a man-made disaster, one of great negligence.

I don’t think this is the same sort of freedom that Texans think they were told that this would provide.

End of commentary. Well, close to the end.

Anyway, this post reminded me of another Chris Rea from that same album, a song called Texas. It’s about a guy in, I Believe, Ireland who dreams of Texas, fantasizing about its size and wide open spaces. He sees it as a place of escape. A place where a man can be free. 

Hopefully, his idea of being free is not the same sort of freedom that we’re seeing come to fore at the present. 

Anyway, here’s the song Texas set to a wonderful slideshow of the natural beauty and wonders that make Texas an exceptional place. That exceptional is code for one of my Texas friends. He’ll get it. 

To my friends in Texas, glad to see the cold weather moving past you now. Now comes the hard work of cleaning up and restoring some sense of normalcy. Let’s work on our empathy and our responsibility to those around us so that we can all weather the next storm.

 After all, freedom ain’t free, my friends. Have a good day.



 

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