Freedom is a noble ambition for many and a struggle against oppression for some. In Western liberal democracies we cherish the notion that our freedoms are protected. But how vulnerable are they in today’s volatile economic battleground?
The United Nations and NATO were established to end conflict and bring nations together to resolve conflict. However, as we have seen in Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Turkey and numerous conflicts around the world, military power is still favoured over international diplomacy and negotiation.
Here in Belfast the peace process has been largely successful. Some dissident groups and paramilitary organisations continue to live in the past, but disagreement is resolved politically, not by force of arms.
The separate communities of nationalists and unionists are still suspicious of each other, and their political representatives play the ‘them and us’ game. Sinn Fein are accused of using the Equality agenda to “get the bastards”, the DUP refuses to back an Irish Language Act, and has provided the controversy over a green energy scheme prompting another election in less than a year.
The peace dividend here not only promotes trade and encourages investment, but allows young people the freedom to associate with diverse communities of people. Gay rights, respect for foreign cultures and those with disabilities are issues that are work in progress. But there is a healthier climate to encourage freedom for all, as long as we continue to jaw jaw rather than war war.