In the United States, as well as in many other developed and developing countries, the issues of freedom and security play an important role. People are involved in debates to understand if it is normal to sacrifice personal freedoms in order to stay safe. Regarding political demands and social norms, freedom and security become conflicting values when civil liberties have to be secretly eroded (Kristof, 2002). At the same time, people expect to be protected and experience safety under the protection of the government, and freedom turns out to be a synonym for security. Today, people get confused by the necessity to choose between freedom and security because of the unpredictable impact of the coronavirus situation. Citizens should spend months at home and be socially isolated to predict infection that could kill in a short period of time. Emergency measures have spread around the globe, justifying limitations on freedoms to promote health and safety. The use of the coronavirus excuse to challenge human rights and freedoms is characterized by double, either political or health, standards, but human safety is always a primary individual responsibility determined by certain external factors.
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As history shows, it is usually enough for one event to happen or one person to ask a question in order to provoke a new debate that lasts forever. In 2001, the September 11 attacks solved as a solid basis for the government and American citizens to understand the worth of freedom and security in the country. A single event led to a line of solutions and interventions under which civil liberties were steamrolled, and American traditions were betrayed (Kristof, 2002). Political leaders found it necessary to take immediate steps and punish those who planned several terrorist attacks that resulted in about 3000 lives and multiple injuries. In a moment, all Muslim friends and neighbors became enemies and betrayers who could put this life at risk. The idea of being free could not be associated with safety issues anymore, and attention to civil liberties would hardly prevent another attack. According to Kristof (2002), it is wrong to imprison innocent people to achieve material purposes. Although this activity does not destroy freedoms to promote safety, it may question the worth of human choices and the appropriateness of values.
The controversies between freedom and security continue growing with time, especially during the period of Edward Snowden. In 2013, this young man revealed his legacy and made copies of the information a Central Intelligence Agency was able to gather about people with the help of the eavesdropping program (Haynes, 2015). It was a real shock for people to realize that all their lives could be observed by the government. If the government could investigate society, it is necessary to provide society with similar opportunities. Haynes (2015) is correct, saying that power corrupts, and each time, a person has enough reasons to be afraid of something. The story of Snowden proves that the desire to create a safe and protected environment has its price. Many people define their government as overweening and unfair because of the necessity to address secret strategies and make unethical decisions (Haynes, 2015; Kristof, 2002). However, they also think that it is the responsibility of the political leaders to protect society. The American government is already aware of possible losses and benefits, but there is still no answer to the question whether freedom or security should prevail.
Today, the situation when people have to choose between their freedom and safety has been considerably challenged because of the coronavirus situation. On the one hand, the spread and the outcomes of the virus are impressive, and millions of people, either ordinary citizens, or healthcare workers, or political leaders, show their unpreparedness. Governments impose disproportionate restrictions on human activities, exchange of information, and social distancing (Funk & Linzer, 2020). The main explanation for this decision is the necessity to predict the virus and control mortality ratings. People, in their turn, think that the authorities find it effective to use the COVID-19 situation to suppress populations, challenge business, and question freedoms (Funk & Linzer, 2020). Today, the positions of citizens differ as someone believes that the government does everything possible to keep safety and order, but some groups consider changes as another political provocation. Information technology progress, social media impact, and achievements in health care and medicine do not help to support human freedom and safety. As a result, similar debates, unclear positions, and controversies arise, dividing families, communities, and nations.
Despite the intention to create common norms, every person is always free to develop individual beliefs. I am one of those who think that honesty and open-mindedness are frequently underestimated. I do not want to live in a world where honesty becomes a synonym of weakness or inability. I consider open-mindedness as a chance to learn something new. I create my life in a way that I have nothing to hide. If there are politically approved organizations to check my phone calls, I do not mind if they do it to be sure I am not a threat to my country. I could have enemies and think about revenge, but all this is on a personal level and does not require serious punishment. It is my life, and I am free to do everything I want. I do nothing wrong to society at the national level and let the government see it, as well as the intention of people around me. If social isolation is a means to save human lives, I am ready to follow restrictions, not at the expense of my freedoms but to enhance my health and safety.
To reduce concerns about freedom and safety, it is necessary to stop comparing them. Freedom is a possibility to do what people want and when they want, and if there is no threat to human life, freedoms are never restricted. Many people cannot even realize that what they actually do is not to be free but to be protected. Subconsciously, it is normal to strive for safety, not for freedom. I do not want to rush to extremes like to live in jail and be safe or live on an island and be exposed to natural disasters. Freedom and safety are available to people, and the role of the government is not to break the balance and keep everything in order. If I need to spend several months in isolation to keep healthy and reduce the health crisis, I am glad to make this contribution and support society. If the national security should check my email to predict another terrorist attack, I could live with this fact. However, if no attempt is made to promote security, I am not sure how long I would live and enjoy freedom.
Funk, A. & Linzer, I. (2020). How the coronavirus could trigger a backslide on freedom around the world. Washington Post. Web.
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Haynes, D. D. (2015). Liberty vs. security: An old debate renewed in the age of terror. Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Web.
Kristof, N. D. (2002). Security and freedom. New York Times. Web.