Freedoms "of" verses Freedoms "From"

Some weeks ago I scanned the Pierre Trudeau Biography titled Just Watch Me by John English. Upon reflection, I decided that I needed to read it thoroughly. It seemed to get to my underlying beliefs more than I could explain.

On this re-read, I have focused on the passage around page 264(f). Some of what struck me, and how follows. We know that as Prime Minister, Trudeau had a powerful impact on Canada… what I had not understood was that he had also impacted me as an individual. Following are quotes from the John English version of what Trudeau said at the time…

Trudeau, on being awarded the prestigious “Freedom of the City of London” made a speech at Mansion House where he made in interesting distinction between “freedoms of” (e.g. speech, assembly and the press) and “freedoms from” (e.g. want, hunger, disease, nuclear holocaust and environmental degradation). I think he was far ahead of most other leaders on this. It is maybe the reason our (my) social leanings are to the left.

He went on to say that there needed to be a new balance… “nothing less than an acceptable distribution of the world’s wealth”. He further said that “none of us can escape the burden of our responsibility. None of us can escape the tragedy of any failure. Nor, happily, will anyone escape the benefit, the joy, the satisfaction … the freedom… which will accompany the discharge of that responsibility”.

Today, thirty-five years later, mostly the world has not adapted such a strategy. We are realizing that the world will not survive if we don’t learn how to facilitate the lives of the mal-nourished, un-educated, and oppressed peoples of the world. We had a Prime Minister, one who was not perfect, but saw where the future was headed. From where will the next transformative leader come?

Quotes and thoughts relate to John English’s book Just Watch Me, the life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau 1968 – 2000 ISBN-13: 978-0-676-97521-5


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