I’ve been aware of how often Jonathan Franzen mentions freedom in his highly touted new novel, and how often responsibility kicks in. “Freedom,” the tome I’ve been reading while flying both directions cross-country these past few weeks, is partly about competition in relationships, in families, one-upmanship in love. It’s sad too.  I read somewhere recently that it ends happily, so I want to extend the last 150 pages as long as possible. Then be happy and totally satisfied with the finale.

Do we Americans have too much freedom, which contributes to be too much greed, selfishness and extreme wealth for the few?

In the book,  “The reason the system can’t be overthrown in this country,” Walter said, is all about freedom. The reason the free market in Europe is tempered by socialism is that they’re not so hung up on personal liberties.”

Everyone in the United States wants their privileges, their just due, their right to dump on everybody else. And why should we care about the homeless, the poor, the lost?

If some folks have had good luck, or their parents worked hard and left them tons of money, I can’t fathom why those people may not care about anybody else. Read: Tea Partiers and narrow-minded ilk of any stripe. Protect what’s theirs. Isn’t that freedom for some?

A dear friend once asked me, “Why can’t we have a benevelant dictator?”

“Well, that’s not the American way,” I told her, American history teacher that I was.

Hey, I know this is serious stuff to think about on the weekend. And my head isn’t on straight after all the flying, being stranded in airports, and being on vacation. All I know is that giant super markets afford way too much freedom for me. Grocery shopping with Ethan in the Ellsworth Hannaford, there were about 10 feet of different types of instant coffee: one-cup Hazelnut, fusion decaf/caffeinated, Sumatran or Chilean dark roast, soy-milk infused instant latte, to imagine only a few.

At least let’s put one person in charge of coffee.

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