Thursday, October 6, 2016

What Freedom Looks Like

It seems natural to me that people would want to enjoy freedom. I don’t mean leisure time activities, or having great wealth so you don’t have to work. I mean freedom to make decisions about your own life and how you’ll spend it.

So I am puzzled by the large numbers of the population who choose less freedom. What is it they believe they are getting?

I don’t know the answer to that question. But I am always looking for better ways to explain the Spherical Model goals of freedom, prosperity, and civilization.

Back in January I wrote a post defining freedom, liberty, and some related words. It included a quote from Lincoln, showing he had thought about the definition of freedom, well enough to look at all sides and come to a conclusion based on principle. That truth was known in 1864, so it ought to still be known today.

I recently came across a piece written by Frenchman Benjamin Constant in 1816. This was in the decades following the American Revolution, the French Revolution and their various attempts at self-rule, and British movement toward a more representative parliamentary rule. The whole of the piece was on comparing the then-modern definition of liberty to the ideas used in ancient societies, which excluded individual rights. In the piece he has a description of liberty—a synonym for freedom—that I think we can still find useful.

I have used only Benjamin Constant’s words, but I turned it into a bullet-point list to make it easier to grasp:

First ask yourselves, Gentlemen, what an Englishman, a French-man, and a citizen of the United States of America understand today by the word “liberty.” For each of them
·         it is the right to be subjected only to the laws,
·         and to be neither arrested, detained, put to death or maltreated in any way by the arbitrary will of one or more individuals.
·         It is the right of everyone to express their opinion,
·         choose a profession and practice it,
·         to dispose of property, and even to abuse it;
·         to come and go without permission, and without having to account for their motives or undertakings.
·         It is everyone’s right to associate with other individuals, either to discuss their interests, or to profess the religion which they and their associates prefer,
·         or even simply to occupy their days or hours in a way which is most compatible with their inclinations or whims.
·         Finally it is everyone’s right to exercise some influence on the administration of the government, either by electing all or particular officials, or through representations, petitions, demands to which the authorities are more or less compelled to pay heed.

If that is freedom, which we mainly agree we want, then why do so many people want government that will take, by force, wealth from some and arbitrarily give it to others?

Why are there speech codes to prevent free speech on school and college campuses?

Why are there unelected government officials deciding how a person can use his own property, if a puddle gets called a wetland, or a particular creature is found upon the property?

Why are people compelled to buy insurance, at ever higher rates, regardless of their health or willingness to pay for care out-of-pocket?

Why are business owners being compelled to violate their own religious practices, or else be forced out of business?

Why did my school district get threatened with a lawsuit (by someone not even in the district) for having an opening prayer at its board meetings?

Why are people blacklisted, or have their property defaced, for supporting one particular candidate or another, or for belonging to a particular party, or holding the beliefs that our country was founded upon?

Why are people being forced to share bathroom or locker room spaces with people of the opposite sex?

Why are certain officials allowed to break the law with impunity while the rest of us are prosecuted?

Why is there so much indoctrination and enforcement in education, at such high cost for such poor results?

Why are states being forced by a bare majority of unelected judges to redefine marriage away from what it has been for all the millennia of recorded history?

Why is government outlawing entry-level jobs that bring in less than $15 in value per hour?

The questions could go on. On one side of the spectrum—the liberal elite, the progressives, the socialists, or whatever you want to call them—people are in favor of coercion, manipulation, and tyranny. In Spherical Model language, they are all for southern hemisphere tyranny and against freedom—although they are often just fine with libertine licentiousness.

On the other side of the spectrum—the Constitutional conservatives—people are in favor of northern hemisphere freedom, prosperity, and civilization, based on principles.

There is no point to compromise. Example: Say you have a very bad house guest who is found with the good silverware, falling out of his sleeve as he says goodbye at the door. Instead of returning it, he unabashedly keeps all the pieces still awkwardly up his sleeve and says, “I’ll just take this fork, and you can keep that knife.” When someone is taking our freedom, that is what compromise looks like. It’s not acceptable.

The appropriate response would be to detain the guest, recover all of your silverware, warn all of your friends—and possibly call the police to prevent the guy from stealing from others. In order to do that, you have to have a concept of what is right, what you own, and what civilized behavior requires of guests. For most people, that’s pretty clear.

So, with recovering our freedom, maybe we could use some righteous indignation. Maybe we need to speak up and remind everyone what freedoms God endowed us with--and stop giving in to that thief pretending to be your guest, who requires even more of you after you notice the thieving.

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