Freedom From Want

Everyone has the right to fundamental freedoms

Everyone has the right to fundamental freedoms

The four ideals or pillars of democracy are; freedom, representation, equity, and justice.

“1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

“2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.”

One very important freedom which is not identified in the Canadian Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the freedom from want defined in the dictionary as: freedom from the absence of necessity.

Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 6, 1941 in his State of the Union address proposed four fundamental freedoms that people “everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy: Freedom of speech, Freedom of worship, Freedom from want, Freedom from fear. The “Freedom from want” he referred to means to be in a situation where you don’t have to worry about where your next meal is coming from, how you can clothe yourself and your children or get a roof over your head. “Want” in this context refers to poverty.

But, is freedom from the absence of necessity a right? Does one have the right to choose to be poor? Can one in poverty be considered an equal within society?

Persons living in poverty, approximately 11% of the population in Canada, use above average social resources, health resources and police and legal resources which the general population must pay for. Cost to Canada $72-84 billion per year (2009) – in Ontario this means over $2,299 per tax payer each year, and in British Columbia, this equates to over $2,100 per tax payer each year.

Is it injustice that a person be involuntarily forced to pay for the services for those without means?

What are the root causes of poverty? Most persons living in poverty grew up in poverty. Generational poverty is the most difficult circumstance to rectify. Children in poverty are trapped in a sub-standard living which is entirely not their fault. Unfortunately, poverty becomes an obstacle to future success before a child is even born.

Impoverished families have higher rates of obesity because of malnutrition. Impoverished children are less likely to complete secondary education, more likely to experiment with drugs and sex and more likely to become involved with crime.

Since it is not the child’s fault to be mired in poverty, then is it not a right to be presented with the proper tools needed to overcome this form of bondage.

Excerpt From: Freedom from Want By Carlos Bulosan
Published in the Saturday Evening Post Magazine, March 6, 1943

Our march toward security and peace is the march of freedom—the freedom that we should like to become a living part of. It is the dignity of the individual to live in a society of free men, where the spirit of understanding and belief exists; of understanding that all men, whatever their color, race, religion or estate, should be given equal opportunity to serve themselves and each other according to their needs and abilities.

But we are not really free unless we use what we produce. So long as the fruit of our labor is denied us, so long will want manifest itself in a world of slaves.

It is only when we have plenty to eat—plenty of everything— that we begin to understand what freedom means. To us, freedom is not an intangible thing. When we have enough to eat, then we are healthy enough to enjoy what we eat. Then we have the time and ability to read and think and discuss things. Then we are not merely living but also becoming a creative part of life. It is only then that we become a growing part of democracy.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s