FREEDOM: Theory and Practice

Ronald Reagan's current campaign to obfuscate the meaning of the word "freedom" undermines one of the most maligned concepts bequeathed humanity by its ancestors. Your president would have you believe that "freedom" is the ability to maintain an astronomical purchasing power and an obscenely ostentatious lifestyle. This is false. While the Chief Executive may claim, with some truth, that you have a "right" to a great deal more of the Earth's resources than the rest of the planet's inhabitants, that is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they said "rights."

There is a world of difference between "rights" and "freedom." "Rights" are a benefit bestowed by a given government upon its citizens. The United States bestows upon its citizens the "right" to rape the remainder of the Earth, and backs up this "right" with the nuclear weapons purchased by the citizens for that purpose. "Freedom" is the ability to make a decision. Freedom exists entirely inependent of rights, and rights do not guarantee freedom.

Fhyz Efrom Awadt was sixteen years old in l967. Shortly before the Egyptian-Israeli war of the same year, Fhyz enlisted in the Egyptian army. Fhyz had been trained a Catholic; that is, as one trained not to question dogma. As a result of his "religious" training and the nationalistic indoctrination to which he was exposed in the public schools, the young Egyptian felt the six year enlistment to be both his sacred and solemn duty.

For the first five years of his hitch Fhyz was a model soldier. This would not surprise anyone who has ever met the man, because he is an exceptional human being who does nearly everything he turns his hand to with amazing proficiency. What did surprise people was that a few months before his enlistment was up, around the time that the Egyptians began to mobilize for the "Yom Kippur" war, Fhyz began telling his comrades-in-arms that it was contrary to God's law for brothers to kill brothers. He said that the Israelis were the Egyptians'brothers. His military superiors took exception to Fhyz's exercisein free speech, and sentenced him to be shot. Anwar el Sadat, for some vested interest, commuted the sentence to life imprisonment. Today Fhyz can be contacted at Prison el Kanatra, Cairo, Egypt.

"I am only in for selling hashish, to make a little money for my family. Fhyz betrayed his country," said a fellow prisoner.

In prison Fhyz is also exceptional. Almost always smiling, never a foul word, constantly giving to and helping other prisoners, he is something rare: a truly happy person.

What had prompted his traitorous actions was his reading and contemplation of the Bible. Through his own thinking, and contrary to what he had been taught, Fhyz had come to the conclusion that it would be better for him to suffer a little inconvenience, or even to lay down his life if necessary, rather than to transgress God's law. For their sakes he also felt it his duty to inform his comrades.

Fhyz hadn't the "right" to speak, but he did have the courage to exercise his freedom.