in Society, User freedom

Is freedom more important than safety?

Every freedom we surrender is a freedom our children will never know existed. History shows humans are willing to die to gain freedom. For thousands of years, as much as we know about myths and legends of wars, people were willing to fight to death to gain freedom and liberty. Either they liberated themselves from external forces or local dictators, people who fought were seen as heroes and those who surrendered were seen as cowards and unworthy.

Is freedom more important than safety? I believe it doesn’t even depend on what you call safety. I know dictators that will protect their citizens from anything, but no person feels safe. Living in fear of losing everything with a simple mistake is more unsafe situation than fear of losing your life to an army of invaders.

Today, we see Ukrainians fighting against Russian invaders. They are willing to die but not lose their liberty. People in Iran are protesting against violations of their liberty and personal and societal freedoms. Many are killed by the cops. There are thousands of marches and protests in United States every year against tyrannical laws and rules and I’ve seen people arrested, tear gassed, and getting shot for that.

For human beings, life without freedom is not worth living. Safety has become a keyword for tyrants to violate our liberties. By safety, the dictator means “keep being alive” and that’s wrong. Safety has a lot of meanings and is multi-dimensional.

Economical safety, emotional safety, health and environmental safety, humanitarian and freedom safety, and protection against anything that can take these away are kinds of safety a human being needs, and without any of them, you’re not safe.

A right is a right when you have it, if anything can take it away, it’s just a privilege and an illusion. Safety is a keyword for that illusion to make you emotionally prepared to lose your rights. And when you lose any of your rights, any, you’re no longer free.

I am a fan of free software. A software is free when it gives the user the four essential freedoms. The four freedoms are 1) freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose; 2) freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish; 3) freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others; and 4) freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others.

A program is free when it gives you all these freedoms. Even if you lose one of these freedoms, the program is considered proprietary. A proprietary software violates users’ rights. It gives privileges to some people but violates others. That’s wrong.

Now I know many (if not most) free programs are gratis (meaning free of cost) but sometimes having these freedoms costs you money. Sometimes it costs you effort and work, and sometimes it costs you giving up something else, such as comfort of using a nice interface or smooth progress of work on a proprietary program. I am willing to give up that comfort and pay money to have my essential four freedoms. I know a community of very nice and hard-working people who think the same as me on this.

I believe free programs are much more safe than proprietary ones. When a program is free, and lets you express and practice freedoms, it gives you ability to change it so it works and behaves as you wish. If it has security vulnerabilities, you can fix them yourself or hire someone to do it for you. If there’s a backdoor or a violation of privacy, you can close that door and stop the violation. If there’s a behavior you don’t like, you can change it.

You may not want to change anything but the freedoms are still there to assure you one important matter: it’s you who is in control.

A proprietary program doesn’t let you practice your freedoms, therefore you’re reliant on the developer, the master, to grant you what you need.

I believe this effort, to have software freedom, is much similar to life. In life we sometimes need to give up on some comfort to gain freedom and that freedom eventually leads us to a safe society with individual liberties that collectively will create a safe society where there’s comfort and safety.

I believe safety is a result of freedom. Safety without freedom is an illusion, is a violation of whatever humans stood for, for thousands of years. It’s freedom and personal liberties that brings us safety, not vice versa.