We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression--everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way-- everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want . . . everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear . . . anywhere in the world.--President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Message to Congress, January 6, 1941
We are still looking forward to a world founded upon the four freedoms spelled out by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Seventy-two years later we live in a world where freedom of speech and expression is under scrutiny in the name of national security. We live with religious intolerance and persecution. Starvation in third world countries is commonplace. We live in a world where instilling fear in a populace is the weapon of choice in order to foster a particular ideology.
At one time it was anticipated that the United Nations would be the instrument to finally realizing “a world founded upon four essential human freedoms”. To some degree this international body has brought focus on genocide, starvation and deprivation of human rights in the world. Given the political maneuverings which dictate every move the United Nations makes, we should be grateful that trying to address the problems causing human suffering is even on its agenda.
Highlighting the four freedoms is part of FDR’s legacy. Achieving them awaits that leader who can finally convince people that humanitarianism should take precedence over their own personal perceived needs. John F. Kennedy took a stab at it in his inaugural address (1/20/1961) when he implored his fellow Americans to "ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country". Again they became words for a legacy.
The chances of a world in which freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear are the rule rather than the exception, are about as good as the NRA supporting a repeal of the Second Amendment.