Freedom is the Fox and We are the Hunters


Even as an adolescent “scholar”, I wondered about the final third facet of Thomas Jefferson’s famous “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” inclusion in our American Declaration of Independence, but not because I didn’t like it, but because I was already old enough to know that some of the things I’d already found it fun to pursue in the name of happiness could get you in a little trouble. So, if my limited experience, and what I saw also happening to my friends also were also true pursuits of happiness, what were we supposed to get from Mr. Jefferson’s message?

The rub was – I wasn’t old enough at age sixteen to understand that my confusion about the third part was based upon my immature grasp of the second part – that thing that Jefferson called “liberty”.

Like Janet Joplin sang, about a dozen years beyond my salad days, some of us recognized “liberty” as a synonym for “freedom” – and, as Janet belted it out a half generation later, we already found ourselves holding onto only a slightly tougher version of “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

Freedom is never just another word for “nothing left to lose”. Freedom is the “fox” that invites that misunderstanding for the sake of hiding that there always is a consequence – a price to pay – for everything we do – even those things we do in the name of freedom.

Want to try out the freedom of living rich in your pursuit of happiness? Go ahead and live off this credit card with that five-digit line of credit you received in the mail, Mr./Ms. College Graduate, and don’t worry about a thing. You will hear from us when it’s time.

Freedom is the fox. And we are the hunters on the “pursuit of happiness” trail. Count on the fox showing up at any time – and maybe even bringing some low profile friends from the same lair when he arrives. And remember too. Some of the costs we pay for our naivete or ignorance or blindness or stupidity – or plain old passion – simply come in the form of prices that go painfully beyond money. These are the ones that bring us to blood, sweat, and tears.

The quick answer to this universal dilemma goes like this: Every disappointment causes a certain kind of pain. Get the lessons of that pain and we don’t have to repeat that same experience. Fail to get it – or fail to even look – and it will be back – in some similar form – until we either get it or suffer loss at a more expensive or deadlier level.

How about simply avoiding the pursuit of happiness altogether?

The alternative is the attempt to live in risk-free seclusion from disappointment in our pursuits of happiness – to breathe quietly without living – and that’s no life at all.

As best I can see it now, freedom as a real state of independence only becomes possible when we come to realize that it is only one hemisphere in another large universal ball that includes responsibility as its other half. – We only get to keep the freedom we see if we come also to see that each freedom we claim has a responsibility that goes along with it – and that includes our understanding that others have the same rights and responsibilities we enjoy and embrace.

If none of us give each other the right to be different from us, then none of us are really free. Or responsible. Or independent.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle



3 Responses to “Freedom is the Fox and We are the Hunters”

  1. Tom Hunter Says:

    Or as John Locke wrote in The Second Treatise of Civil Government, “But though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of license; . . .”

  2. stanfromtacoma Says:

    Life is a puzzle. Putting the puzzle together is happiness. Trouble is for everyone I know or know about inuding Mr Jefferson, the puzzle pieces don’t have precise edges. Just do the best with what you’ve got. Anyone who does that is living an admirable life.

  3. Mark W Says:

    “The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance.” –John Philpot Curran, Irish lawyer and politician, July 10, 1790.

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