Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Most Americans Don't Understand Freedom

[re-blogged from April]

Again and again I hear Americans--especially of the conservative bent--talk about freedom as if it is an either/or proposition; "Homosexuals should be free to marry", or "the government cannot infringe upon our freedom to own guns", or "we should have the freedom to drive any kind of car we would like", and on and on.

The thing many folks don't understand is that whenever a person or population endorses one freedom, they are denying another one. Take our examples one by one: to allow homosexuals to marry, the freedom of bigots to force their subjective moral choices upon our culture is infringed upon. When a government does not regulate gun ownership, the freedom of citizens to live in communities without automatic and semi-automatic weapons is infringed upon. The freedom to drive any kind of car you like--with whatever mode of propulsion--infringes upon your freedom to breathe clean air.

There is no such thing as a free society. The libertarian worldview is truly a fantasy. Every freedom granted to a population or person comes with a freedom denied. What needs to be decided is what the underlying philosophy of the freedoms afforded a population are. A totally free society is not possible, but a just society is.

It is an infringement on the freedom of the wealthy to accumulate and horde wealth to re-distribute that wealth. It is an infringement on the freedom of those whom the wealthy exploit to accumulate and horde their wealth to self determine and self actualize by not re-distributing the wealth concentrated amongst such a small percentage of our population.

The question we have to ask ourselves is 'Why should we grant freedom in one area in this scenario and not the other?'

My personal operating philosophy when it comes to supporting certain freedoms and opposing others are as follows: I support freedoms that promote equality, justice, and human potential. I oppose freedoms that cause harm to others while unfairly benefiting a specific empowered group. I support freedoms that allow individuals to self actualize, and oppose freedoms that cause individuals to stagnate.

I'm sure there are other aspects to my personal view of how freedoms should be allocated, but that's a good snapshot of my personal metric.

We should all have such a metric, and should all understand that when you're talking about freedom, you're not just talking about positives and negatives. With each positive comes a negative, and vice versa.

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