Sunday, June 28, 2015

What's Freedom For?

Everybody's talkin' 'bout freedom. Define your terms. What is freedom? Two choices: 1. Absolute individual autonomy to make whatever choice you want to make.

 People are already getting jumpy, because most of them don't want to kill someone else, or seriously hurt them. But then, most people are going to do some serious equivocating, because "My Body, My Choice!" Not your body, or your choice, in fact. Except for that. I think most people could make a distinction between killing and murder, such that it would be morally licit to use lethal force against another person, in tragic and unavoidable circumstances, in self-defense. Was the Second Iraq War in self-defense? Debatable. Were the ends sought significant enough to render numerous unintended bad effects acceptable? Except for that.

Not to beat up on anyone here, but we're getting into the weeds pretty fast. It's like we're talking about morality. Uh-oh.

What's our second definition of freedom? 2. A certain modicum of self-determination, flourishing in the absence of coercion, for the purpose of seeking the good, the true, and the beautiful. Let's leave this aside for the moment.

I think the only thing worse than libertarianism is what I like to call "lazy libertarianism." Tell me you've heard this before: "As long as two consenting adults want to do it (or even one), and no one is getting hurt, it's no one else's business." How do you know no one is getting hurt? In fact, that you are not hurting yourself? Ever drank way too much? How do you know "the kids are all right," to pose a question with a little more relevance for our lives today. Do you know, or do you just agree with whatever countenances the thing you've already decided?

I might add, if a person lives in a mud hut in El Salvador, and works for the equivalent of 2 pennies a day, he doesn't have that self-determination I'm thinking of. You know what his "consent" to that situation means? Two things: Jack, and Squat. I digress.

Personally, I just feel guilty that I've been here in this world for thirty-odd years, crowing about freedom and liberty no doubt for most of it, and only recently stopped to ask, "What does that mean, and what's it for?"

Somebody recently asked me, "Why can't people make their own meaning?" Well, they are. How's that working out? In all my years as a citizen of the land of the free and the home of the brave, never have my fellows been less free, or less brave, than they are right now.

Some people worry that if we start asking all these questions, a tyrannical theocracy of fanaticism will somehow appear. I suppose that's always possible. In my experience though, there is nothing more tyrannical than a guilty conscience. I'm doubting whether the dudes with Bibles ever really had that much power. Maybe you need to silence them, because if you don't, and loudly, the cry of your heart will be too much to bear. But that's none of my business.

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