I would give my life for free­dom

The pol­i­tics of free­dom, and the jus­tice of free­dom, are amaz­ingly con­vo­luted.

Living Now - - Front Page - By Charles Kovess Charles Kovess LL.B. (Hons), LL.M., CSP, MAICD

My par­ents were refugees from Hun­gary, who ar­rived here in Aus­tralia in 1949 with noth­ing other than one suit­case each. No money. No friends. No rel­a­tives, other than one sis­ter and brother-in-law, and one mother, who were trav­el­ling with them. They could not speak English, and were speed learn­ing on the three weeks they spent trav­el­ling here by ship. Be as­sured: it was not a lux­ury cruise liner!

Why did they leave the coun­try of their birth, and the coun­try that they loved? Free­dom! They wanted to be free, and in 1947 Com­mu­nist Rus­sia had so in­fil­trated Hun­gary af­ter World War II that they fled first to Aus­tria, and two years later to Mel­bourne. Rus­sia’s ef­fec­tive takeover of Hun­gary was driven by pol­i­tics and was con­trary to any rea­son­able jus­tice prin­ci­ples.

This les­son in free­dom has guided my life ever since. In per­sonal de­vel­op­ment pro­grams I have at­tended (all of which have helped the on­go­ing de­vel­op­ment of my ‘self-aware­ness’) I clearly iden­ti­fied and con­sciously re­alised that I would give my life for free­dom.

For what causes would you be will­ing to give your life? This is a pro­found ques­tion, and I en­cour­age you to dis­cover your unique an­swer or an­swers to it.

Thomas Jef­fer­son fa­mously wrote in 1776, “that all men are cre­ated equal; that they are en­dowed by their Cre­ator with cer­tain in­alien­able rights; that among these are life, lib­erty, and the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness…” ‘Lib­erty’ is sim­ply an­other word for free­dom.

Free­dom is what makes us hu­man: an­i­mals don’t have free­dom. They are guided by, and forced to act in ac­cor­dance with their in­stincts. We of­ten say, en­vi­ously, “I want to be free as a bird”, but birds are not free. That is why the be­hav­iour of al­most all an­i­mals has not changed for many thou­sands of years, whereas hu­man be­hav­iour and progress and ac­com­plish­ment have been re­mark­able.

This progress is due to free­dom. Hu­mans have the free­dom to think dif­fer­ently, and thereby act dif­fer­ently.

In Oc­to­ber, 2016, all around the world Hun­gar­i­ans and Hun­gar­ian-linked peo­ple were com­mem­o­rat­ing the 60th an­niver­sary of the Hun­gar­ian Rev­o­lu­tion against Com­mu­nist Rus­sia that erupted, syn­chro­nis­ti­cally for our fam­ily, on my mother’s birth­day, 23 Oc­to­ber, 1956. This was in­deed a fight for free­dom by a min­now na­tion against the might of Rus­sia. It was a fight for jus­tice, that Hun­gar­i­ans should not be con­trolled or en­slaved by or stolen from by Rus­sia.

Great courage was shown by many young Hun­gar­ian stu­dents, to speak up against to­tal­i­tar­i­an­ism, know­ing that any dis­obe­di­ence would lead to un­just jail­ing and, of­ten, un­just con­vic­tions and se­vere pun­ish­ment. On 30 Oc­to­ber, Rus­sia an­nounced that it was with­draw­ing its tank and troops from Hun­gary, but on 4 Novem­ber, in true, ly­ing com­mu­nist fash­ion, she re-at­tacked with in­creased re­in­force­ments and bru­tally struck down the cel­e­brat­ing na­tion, and took away the prom­ise of free­dom and the prom­ise of jus­tice.

Just two weeks later, the Mel­bourne Olympics com­menced, and dur­ing those Olympics the Hun­gar­ian wa­ter polo team played a fa­mous, bru­tal, ‘blood-in-the­wa­ter’ win­ning game against the Rus­sian team. Hun­gary won the gold medal. Mel­bour­ni­ans of all cul­tures and ori­gins pas­sion­ately sup­ported the Hun­gar­i­ans in this match, and I have met a num­ber of peo­ple who were there at the time, who truly un­der­stood the im­port of Hun­gary’s win.

Many thou­sands of Hun­gar­i­ans il­le­gally fled Hun­gary as refugees in the months that fol­lowed. If you were caught at the bor­ders, which were pa­trolled by Rus­sian troops, you would be shot if you re­sisted ar­rest, or jailed for lengthy pe­ri­ods. Some 30,000 found their way to Aus­tralia. Here, they have found free­dom, and jus­tice, while mourn­ing the loss of lives in their home­land, the loss of their fam­ily and friends’ net­works, and the loss of liv­ing in the Hun­gar­ian land and cul­ture that they loved. But they got on with the job, and have made a big con­tri­bu­tion to the Aus­tralia that we now all ex­pe­ri­ence.

Be­ing free, hav­ing free­dom, starts with your aware­ness of what free­dom means to you. Many peo­ple in Aus­tralia, from my ob­ser­va­tions, sim­ply as­sume that free­dom is theirs, but Ron­ald Rea­gan warned us in the 1980s, while he was Pres­i­dent of the USA, that ‘every gen­er­a­tion has to fight for its free­dom’. I have deep con­cerns that few peo­ple are will­ing to do this.

Once you have aware­ness of free­dom, then you can con­trol and guard your thoughts, which then leads to be­hav­iour re­lated to the fight for free­dom. You have to ac­cess your courage to think

your own thoughts, in a world that is pres­sur­ing you to con­form.

The op­po­site of courage, in my view, is con­form­ity!

The late Buck­min­ster Fuller, an Amer­i­can ge­nius who died in 1983 at the age of 87, af­ter hav­ing been awarded 47 Honorary Doc­tor­ates (and many of the read­ers of this ar­ti­cle would not have even heard his name be­fore!), said this:

“… I am con­vinced that hu­man con­tin­u­ance on the planet now de­pends en­tirely upon: (1) The in­tu­itive wis­dom of each and

every in­di­vid­ual (2) The in­di­vid­ual’s com­pre­hen­sive

in­formed­ness… (5) The in­di­vid­ual’s never join­ing ac­tion with oth­ers, as mo­ti­vated only by crowd-en­gen­dered emo­tion­al­ism, or by a sense of the crowd’s power to over­whelm, or in fear of hold­ing to the course in­di­cated by one’s own in­tel­lec­tual con­vic­tions” (from Crit­i­cal Path, 1983). So, do you make your de­ci­sions based on your own think­ing, and guided by your val­ues, or do you let ‘ the mob’ pres­sure you? The fight for free­dom in Aus­tralia, I sug­gest, now in­cludes: a) The fight to stop politi­cians pass­ing more and more laws that re­strict our be­hav­iours, in the name of ‘safety’. Politi­cians will play pol­i­tics: most of them will do what­ever it takes to be elected, so they can stay on the gravy train of liv­ing off taxes paid by you. b) The fight to stop politi­cians re­spond­ing to the vo­cal mi­nor­ity who want to cen­sor free speech, in the name of their par­tic­u­lar cause. c) The fight for free speech and avoid­ing the trend to po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness. For ex­am­ple, con­tem­plate the op­er­a­tions of Sec­tion 18C of the Racial Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act. d) The fight for free­dom of choice in your health so­lu­tions, and par­tic­u­larly to the ex­tent to which you want to vac­ci­nate your chil­dren. e) The fight for free­dom to ex­press your views with­out be­ing la­belled, crit­i­cised, os­tracised and bul­lied be­cause you don’t agree with an­other’s views. For ex­am­ple con­tem­plate the same-sex mar­riage de­bate. The fight to ed­u­cate your­self and your chil­dren in the ways that you con­sider use­ful, rather than the views of Gov­ern­ment Ed­u­ca­tion De­part­ments. Al­most every per­son I speak to has a dif­fer­ent def­i­ni­tion of ‘a good ed­u­ca­tion’. Which one is the right one??

So, are you go­ing to be coura­geous, like my par­ents, or a con­form­ist?

My par­ents pro­duced six chil­dren who then pro­duced 14 grand­chil­dren. Now that’s some­thing for which they can be jus­ti­fi­ably proud; an out­come driven by the nat­u­ral hu­man de­sire for free­dom and jus­tice, for which they were will­ing to take great risks and ex­hibit great courage.

What are you will­ing to fight for? Where can you be coura­geous? What pas­sions do you have that will fuel your on­go­ing suc­cess, and your unique def­i­ni­tion of a worth­while life? n

For what causes would you be will­ing to give your life? This is a pro­found ques­tion, and I en­cour­age you to dis­cover your unique an­swer or an­swers to it.

Af­ter 20 years of high level le­gal and busi­ness ex­pe­ri­ence, Charles Kovess turned his back on the law in 1993 to share suc­cess strate­gies as a pro­fes­sional speaker, ed­u­ca­tor, fa­cil­i­ta­tor and coach. Charles is known as Aus­trala­sia’s Pas­sion Provo­ca­teur and is a world ex­pert and thought leader on the power and value of pas­sion! He has au­thored ‘Pas­sion­ate Peo­ple Pro­duce’ (pub­lished by Hay House), and ‘Pas­sion­ate Per­for­mance’, and is the co-au­thor of ‘The 7 Heav­enly Virtues of Lead­er­ship’.

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