Brasilmagic\’s Weblog

Venting to the World

This is not the only country that has freedom

It irks me to hear right wingers speaking ad nauseum about American “freedom” as if nowhere else in the world people had any freedom. Of course there are many nations where personal freedom is limited. There are still some dictatorships around and countries that are not democratic.

However, most of the Western societies and many others around the world have a considerable amount of freedom, which is actually an abstract word. Freedom can vary from being able to vote to being able to walk around naked in public. Total freedom is impossible.  We all know that societal norms are necessary for keeping communities peaceful.

The folks who think this is the only free country need to get a passport and see the world.
Take Brazil, for example: In the early 90’s, the population went to the streets and impeached a president who was accused of corruption. Brazil went through 20 years of Military regime (they actually brought a lot of progress to the country, which developed a big industrial park during that era) but when it got rid of “copcracy” it became a democratic and free country, where everyone between the ages of 18 and 65 votes.
 
Some small personal freedoms are also different from the US: you can drink everywhere; you can buy beer at the beach, there are just less restrictions, young people can go to bars and clubs after turning 18 (this 21 age limit is exaggerated and  American kids from 18-21 are limited in how they can enjoy nights out).  Interestingly enough, there is not much  alcohol abuse because it is not so forbidden like here. Young people in America, once in College, drink like fish because they can’t go to a regular bar and ask for a beer. There is a drinking culture in college that is pervasive and dangerous to kids’ health. They can go to war and endanger their lives, kill people, get PSTD but they can’t drink a beer in a bar! 
Other excessive restrictions: homeowners association that don’t let you change anything in your house ; city planners imposing a lot of restrictions for those who own businesses (too much local government interference).    
 
Anyhow, when you travel abroad, you have a chance to observe other cultures and see that the world is ONE, that we have these artificial geo-political frontiers but we are all very much the same. National habits and customs are disappearing and internet and television spread news and trends all over .  The youth in most countries want exactly the same things, you hear the same artists and music in a radio station in Rio or in Auckland NZ, women wear the same fashions; and we all are connected by the internet.
Nationalism and Xenophobia, besides being dangerous, are also an old fashioned way to see the world. So there, I am a citizen of the world 🙂 I believe in cooperation between countries, scientific and economic, complementary and not confrontational. Maybe it is an illusion, but who knows one day we will have less dissent. And in order for that to happen, I hope religion comes to play a smaller role in society.
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October 29, 2008 - Posted by | Society

2 Comments »

  1. Hi! I just found your blog and found it really interesting. Being a Brazilian in US for 8 years now, I can really related to several of your posts. (I smiled a lot reading about the whole engagement ring thing, which is still shocking…).

    I worked for the Obama Campaign, and I was also shocked with the rhetoric about freedom coming from the neo-cons. I was sick listening to some of the speeches from pitbull Palin, trying to re-state in all ways the “exceptionalism” of America.

    I totally agree with your post about the issue of freedom. Specially during the campaign I was shocked to see how little freedom there is when it comes to expressing political and religious views. I’m sure you feel the same way, given your profile containing “moral atheist”. I learned the hard way that the ‘A’ word is a no-no… So much for the label of free country.

    I will be watching out for more posts like these. Very interesting cultural differences.

    best,
    –Stella.

    Comment by Stella Porto | November 7, 2008 | Reply

  2. Hi Stella:

    How nice it is to see a comment like yours.
    Yes, I have always been bothered by the Republican propaganda about the US being a “free” country. It is free…in terms. It is free comparing to the middle eastern countries. It is free comparing to North Korea and Cuba. But it is not freer than other Democracies. The police in the US is quite bullyish, especially the traffic cops and their incessant speeding tickets.

    Don’t take me wrong: I love this country or I would not be living here, but some affirmations like that are distorted. It is a free country, but not the only one.

    I look forward to your comments as a Brazilian (and a smart one) living in this society.

    Comment by Grace Farrell | November 7, 2008 | Reply


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