The Connection Between the Four Freedoms Free Essay
It is widely known that history works only one-way: earlier ideas work to influence later ideas. As the world progresses, the ideas that have been in use are used to develop or improve tomorrow’s or future ideas. For instance, it is common that people use history to correct the present and future. This means that earlier ideas are important not only for historical purposes but also for the value that they hold for the future. The fact that history works only one way is reflected in the relationship between “The Four Freedoms,” “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” “Was Democracy Just a Moment?” and “Barrack Obama’s Second Inaugural.”
“The State of the Union Address” (1941) also understood as “The Four Freedoms” contains the compressed versions of some ideas that are contained in the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” Most of the statements about freedom that are often referred to are published in the form of written documents just like the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” The “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” is a document that clearly states and outlines the rights and freedoms that all people in the whole world should enjoy. These freedoms and rights are universal, meaning that they are designed for all people of all nations, and no one should be discriminated upon or prevented from enjoying those rights. “The Four Freedoms” is one of the most famous political speeches that talk about freedom. It was presented by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1941. This speech contains compressed versions of some of the ideas that are included in the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (Roosevelt 1).
In the “State of the Union Address” (1941), Roosevelt talks about four aspects of freedoms and rights that people should enjoy throughout the world. The first is the freedom of expression and speech. The second is the freedom of worship. The third is the freedom from want, and the fourth is the freedom from fear. All these four aspects are contained and explicated in the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (Roosevelt 5). For example, the freedom from fear in the “Four Freedoms” is covered in Article 3 of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” that states that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security. This shows that the earlier ideas contained in the “Four Freedoms” were used in the development of ideas that are contained in the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed issues of freedoms that touched on the whole world. He showed an aspect of freedoms that reflect universality, and this is the main theme of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” The two prevent discrimination or exploitation of persons based on their race, culture, nationality or language. Thus, the “Four Freedoms” and “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” clearly show how earlier ideas work to influence later ideas and that history works in one-way (Roosevelt 3).
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Robert D. Kaplan in “Was Democracy Just a Moment?” also reflects the way earlier ideas influence later ideas. Robert D. Kaplan clearly criticizes the degrees to which the ideas contained in the “Four Freedoms” and “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” were succeeding or failing by looking at different democracies. At this point, it is important to mention again that the “Four Freedoms” and the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” address issues of universal rights or worldwide freedoms, meaning that the kind of freedoms that are in use in one democracy should or must work in the same way in another democracy in the world. However, Kaplan refutes this by stating that the kind of freedoms or rights that work in one democracy cannot work in a similar way in another democracy. In the opening quote, Kaplan states, “The global triumph of democracy was to be the glorious climax of the American Century. But democracy may not be the system that will best serve the world – or even the one that will prevail in places that now consider themselves bastions of freedom” (Kaplan 1). Kaplan points out that when Christianity conquered Europe and the Mediterranean, people believed that the world could be peaceful as long as the sanctity of an individual was stressed. This was an aspect supported by the “Four Freedoms” and the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” These two emphasized the concept of viability of western democracy throughout the world. However, Kaplan criticizes this view and points out that the collapse of communism because of its own internal stresses and the natural death of Marxism made it clear that western democracy was nothing close to being viable. He states that reason whether referred to as enlightenment, Christianity or democracy will not triumph in the world. Kaplan considers the aspects emphasized by the “Four Freedoms” and the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” as aspects of democracy that are encouraged in many parts of the world. However, these are not forms of democracy but are new forms of authoritarianism. Kaplan clearly shows “history works only one way” and that history has shown that the western concept of democracy will not work in the world today or in the future (Kaplan 1).
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Kaplan in one way or another uses the concepts of western democracy to show that those outlined in the “Four Freedoms” and “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” are similar to what he is putting forth; but rather than display a positive mind in this, he looks at them as concepts that will never work for the whole world. Kaplan directly criticizes the concept of western democracy. However, in the criticism, he indirectly addresses the concepts of freedoms and rights that are core to the “Four Freedoms” and the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” Franklin D. Roosevelt and the General Assembly of the United Nations were trying to create a world where democracy is at play everywhere so that the freedoms and rights of all individuals are respected. Later, Kaplan comes in to add his ideas by arguing contrary to the concepts of the two: stating that these freedoms and rights cannot triumph worldwide through democracy as proposed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and the General Assembly of the United Nations. Thus, this clearly shows that earlier ideas can influence later ideas (Kaplan 3).
Barrack Obama, the current presidents of the United States of America, in his second inaugural addresses the ideas of the “Four Freedoms” and the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” but disapproves Kaplan’s criticism of western democracy. Barrack Obama stated that each time the US citizens gather to usher in a new president, they affirm the enduring strength of the constitution and at the same time the promise of American democracy. Again, Obama gives credence to the concept of rights and freedoms by repeating a declaration that was made two centuries ago, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (Obama). In this statement, Obama, just like Franklin D. Roosevelt in the “Four Freedoms” and the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” affirms that all people, not only Americans, have a right to enjoy universal freedoms and rights because they are created equal. Obama combines the concept of rights and freedoms asserted by the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” and the western democracy emphasizing freedoms asserted by the “Four Freedoms” to show that it works. By using the word ‘we’, Obama emphasizes that Americans and all those who supported his re-election believed in western democracy as a concept that will make the world peaceful by respecting the freedoms and rights of all people all over the world. Obama uses the early ideas brought forth by the “Four Freedoms” and the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” to assert that the world can work better with western democracy and that people have a responsibility to make sure that they enjoy the rights and freedoms they deserve to enjoy. In the speech, he does not just address Americans, but the whole world to believe in western democracy, emulate it and make the world a peaceful place to live for all (Obama).
In his speech, Obama directly disapproves Robert D. Kaplan’s idea that western democracy does not work for the whole world and so are inalienable freedoms and rights. Obama counters Kaplan’s idea that western democracy does not exist because communism and Marxism failed. To show that Kaplan’s idea is wrong, Obama states, “Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing” (Obama). He shows that despite the fact that the enjoyment of universal freedoms and rights has not been sufficiently met, the world is still headed for that direction (Obama).
In conclusion, it is clear that history works only one way and those earlier ideas can influence later ideas. These have been clearly shown in the relationship between the “Four Freedoms” and the “Universal Declaration of Human rights,” and the criticism that Kaplan lays on the two ideas through “Was Democracy Just a Moment?” This is also seen in the affirmation that Obama gives to the “Four Freedoms” and the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” and his disapproval of Kaplan’s ideas.