C'()KKi:si'()M)i:( i fnLetter from West Germany: Freedom: Question & Answer Timenin Frankfurt on the Main.nby Noel A. BlacknAbout 75 participants, representingnevery country of Western Europe and thenUnited States, attended “For YournFreedom and Ours,” a conference sponsorednby The Rockford Institute innNovember 1982 in Frankfurt on thenMain, West Germany. Those in attendancenwere of various stripes of politicalnand philosophical beliefs: there werenself-admitted socialists, humanists,nChristian democrats, social democrats—ncertainly a cross section of currentnWestern European ideological attitudes.nMany dimensions of freedom were explored.nThe limitations were describednthoroughly by some, but perhaps mostntersely in a paradigm by Leopold Tyrmand,none of the speakers: he comparednfreedom to the classic jazz musician whonhas complete innovative scope so long asnhe stays within the structure of thencomposition.nYet some puzzling questions hung innthe air during the sessions. Why were wen—Americans, presenters and participantsnalike—having such difficultynbeing understood in basic parts of ournvalue system? For anyone who travelsnthroughout the world on business it is anpuzzle. In fairness, we can also detect thensame feeling in the United States. Evennin daily exchanges we are plagued not sonmuch by an inability to communicatencertain concepts, as by the recognitionnthat the ideas are not fully comprehendednby the listener. The final discussionnperiod revealed what may be the keynto Americans’ inability to penetrate thenunderstanding of so many other people.nPerhaps feeling the same frustration Inwas experiencing, a young man fromnBritain observed that Americans speak ofnfreedom in significantly different termsnMr. Black is director of internationalnpublic affairs for Amway Corporation.n44,nChronicles of Culturenthan Europeans. He described an apparentnset of assumptions, unclear tonhim, from which Americans operatednand which made it difficult for Europeansnto comprehend precisely whynAmericans react so strongly in any discussionnof liberty.nIn one of those rare insights that makenlife exciting, I recalled a text I had readnsome years before. Its point was thatnthere is a fundamental difference betweennthe United States and all other nationsnof the world, free or unfree. Andnthat difference is contained in thenassumptions of the founders of our nationnand stated succinctly in the Declarationnof Independence. “We hold thesentmths to be self-evident, that all men arencreated equal, that they are endowed byntheir Creator with certain unalienablenrights, that among these are life, libertynand the pursuit of happiness.” Our foundersnstarted with a clean slate, stating fornthe world certain principles they held tonbe true and which undergird both thenDeclaration and the Constitution.nMusing about that, one can surmisenthat, unique in the world, the UnitednStates springs from a recognition thatnfreedom comes from God. Human institutionsndo not grant liberty. Governmentsndon’t grant it to their citizens, butnGod grants freedom to his creatures who,nin mrn, form governments and institutionsnto safeguard it. Freedom stemsnfrom the very fact of our God-givennhumanity, from the reality of transcendentallyncreated human beings, not fromnthe transient institutions of man.nThe European experience is different.nIt springs from centuries of struggle of individualnhumans to assert their freedomnand their rights against governments ofnevery sort who would grant unwillingly,nslowly,,only the tiniest incremental progressnon the road to freedom. And,nbecause human authority is seen as thennnsource of freedom, it is unremarkablenwhen government limits freedom. Althoughnmany Americans no longernrecognize this difference, it is part of ourncultural heritage. In a sense, it’s in ournblood. When our government attemptsnto abridge our freedom in any way, wenrebel loudly, often to the dismay andnamusement of non-Americans. In thencurrent idiom, they just don’t understandnwhere we are coming from. Forngenerations, other peoples of the worldnhave recognized that America has anspecial kind of freedom. They havenunderstood it well enough to be desperatento come to America. Our history includesnthe reception, sometimes gmdgingly,nof vast numbers of people fromnevery civilization and country. All ofnthem knew we had something theynwanted. To a point, we have been willingnto share it with them, and they haventhrived in our midst. No society beforenours had a better recognition of whatncreativity is unleashed when people arenfree.nWill man therefore fight merely fornthe preservation of a political or economicnorder? Sometimes he will, althoughnasking him to do so involves thenissue of a meaningful commitment. Butnnote how millions who have never evennconsidered freedom as a divine gift willnnevertheless fight to the death tonpreserve their own freedom, even if it isnvastly limited compared to ours. Neithernthe speakers nor the discussants of thenconference addressed themselves directlynto this question. Maybe because thenproblem of the personal and socialnmotivations of the fight for freedom remainsnmankind’s most impenetrablensecret—and anyone who senses itsnessence prefers to be discreet in order tonmake his or her own commitment credible.nAsLeszekKolakowski, the respectednPolish philosopher, stated in his presen-n