I used to like the story about Patrick Henry and him saying “Give me liberty or give me death!”, but as I have grown older and seen more of the world, I have to say he was a bit naïve. There is no such thing as freedom in this world, or I should say, we wouldn’t very much like this world if there were. If every man were allowed to act however he pleased, it would be chaos, it would immediately be an end to civilization. In fact, it could be argued that civilization itself is a result of men positively choosing to do things they don’t want to do, positively choosing to limit their freedom. The retort to this is often something like, “Well, what we mean by freedom is that we can do what we want, until it interferes with someone else”. The false assumption in this statement is that there are things that we can do that don’t interfere with others. The fact is, that on this planet, or your village, almost everything you do impacts someone else. Victimless crimes do not exist. Freedom may work okay if we all lived on our own little private islands 100 miles from each other with our own water and food supplies, but realistically there is very little that you do, that doesn’t affect those people living around you.
Before I go further a point of clarification is needed. When I speak of freedom I am talking about freedom of action, freedom of choice, physical earthly freedom. I am not talking about the freedom that Jesus was referring to when he said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” That is a spiritual freedom. (I plan on writing an article about the difference between the earthly kingdom, and the kingdom of heaven at a latter time.) What Jesus is talking about is the kind of freedom that a prisoner can have more of than his prison guard.
Now I’m no commie, (If Patrick had said, ”Better dead than red” now that’s a saying I can get behind) I don’t want to live in some hippy commune where we all share everything, and there is a nightly curfew (read Ayn Rand’s, Anthem). I like the idea of making my own choices, of self-sufficiency, of not asking others to do for me what I can do for myself, and choosing what kind of life is best for me, not having some government slob telling me what I can and cannot do, but I have to be wise about such serious things. Let’s say I want my dog to run all over the neighborhood, “nobody’s gonna tell me to cage my dog”. Obviously that would immediately present problems with my neighbors. Also, about the self-sufficiency thing, the fact is, I am where I am today in large part due to my parents and surroundings, both of which I had very little to do with choosing. If my parents wanted to be free, and not be encumbered by a child, I wouldn’t be writing this. Now many people would say, “of course when we say freedom, we don’t mean just do whatever you want” and I agree that when you say freedom you don’t want chaos, that you want rules, but when you put freedom above setting appropriate boundaries, you will end in chaos.
People often falsely assume that the opposite of freedom is slavery, or being a prisoner, but this is not the case. This is like saying the opposite of warm is cold . In fact the opposite of a prisoner is not a free man, but a king. I will explain this. Imagine a man all alone on a deserted tropical island. Is he a prisoner or a free man? Some would say a free man because he can do whatever he wants (this is false, because he can’t have a cheeseburger), and others would say he is a prisoner because he can’t leave (this is also false, what if there was no place else). So what freedom really comes down to is where you draw the boundaries, and what choices are in or out. Now back to the king, think of a man with the largest boundaries, the least limits on his actions, could we not call that man a king. Now we get to a dilemma, out of one side of our mouths we denounce kings, but out of the other we say, “let us all be kings”. So a free man is somewhere on a continuum between a prisoner and a king, the rub is, where on that continuum?
So to me, freedom without any qualifiers is in fact terrible, and like always, the devil is in the details. Those details very badly need to be discussed. The point I am trying to make is that it was a mistake to put freedom on such a high pedestal. By doing so we often put things of more lasting importance below it. A good example of this is having children. Children take away freedom. Many people I have personally known have listed freedom as a reason for not having children. This alone is a good enough reason to knock freedom off it’s pedestal.
What the worship of freedom, of liberty, of independence has done, is isolate us. It has caused us to look at ourselves as one individual, instead of part of a long chain of people spanning back in time including our ancestors, and spanning forward in time including our descendants. It has caused us to live selfishly, to live for ourselves and not for others. It has caused us to ruin our country, to leave our children with a world that will most definitely be filled with war.
Freedom truly isn’t free, it has come at a very high price, a price to me, that wasn’t worth it.