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The Original Meaning of Freedom

From ancient times, communities faced the possibility of being overrun by a hostile army, and those overrun if not killed might be forced into slavery. At stake was the freedom to live and freedom from slavery.

Some Africans whose communities were overrun were sold into slavery, and from them eventally came a song by one of their progeny, "And before I'll be a slave I'll be buried in my grave..."

Fear of loss of freedom from being overrun passed through the ages to the British patriotic song Rule, Britannia, which ended, "Britons never, never, never will be slaves!"

In other words, the first of freedoms needed the protection of an adequate defensive military capability. This did not always exist, but with luck for some a pacifist approach worked, at least for a while. These were communities that surrendered to the rule of a conqueror like Hammurabi. They lost their political freedom and had to pay taxes to the conqueror, and with Hammurabi's conquest they were promised security from other invaders.

Warrior aggression was an early form of violations against freedom. Warriors attacked communities and snatched women and slaves before kings with their armies were conquering areas the way that the Assyrians overran the ancient Hebrews on their way to Egypt. And into the 21st century, sending an army against a community remained an act of denying people freedom, unless the invasion was welcomed and an act of liberation, as in Paris in 1945.

Copyright © 2012 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.