Once upon a time, most Australians would have agreed that freedom as a value was something to be treasured above all else, even safety.
Sadly, decades of government propaganda on the need to subordinate freedom to safety has left its mark on the national psyche.
Today, the concept of freedom is treated very much as a second-order value. One that our governments are encouraging people to view as almost as big a threat to public safety as the virus itself.
Anyone who values freedom or wishes to live freely is increasingly being marginalised and spoken of as a 'risk' or 'danger' to others.
It is a dangerous way of thinking, and the corrosive effects it has had on people’s minds is especially evident amongst those under the age of 40.
In the past, the first question people asked when a new law was proposed was 'Does it infringe on my freedom?'
Today, the only question anyone asks is 'Will it make us safer?'
Bit by bit, we are being transformed from a freedom-loving society into one that values safety and security above ALL else.
With COVID, we were told that if everyone curbs their free lifestyles, if they agree to have much less freedom, then society as a whole will be made 'more safe'.
And that is essentially what we have done for over two years. We gave up our freedoms in order to feel 'more safe'.
We gave up our freedom of movement, our freedom of association, along with our freedom to work, worship, play, and be involved as citizens in civic life.
Just about every important civil liberty and freedom we held was traded away in exchange for 'safety'.
But far from making us feel 'more safe' the loss of freedom and autonomy has had the opposite effect, making us all feel a lot more anxious and insecure.
This is the sad paradox of allowing fear to govern your thoughts and behaviour.
The more obsessed you become about feeling safe, and the more you organise your life around being safe—the less safe you feel.
There can be no safety without freedom.