Steering Freedom toward Righteous Calls
For many, the notion of freedom is the ability to do what we want, when we want.
Seems self-evident, yes? Well, let’s take a look under the hood.
It could be fairly argued that America is the ‘freest’ country in the world. And yet it could be also fairly stated, we are a bit of a mess at this time, due in large extent to our freedoms.
We have the freedom to bear arms for sport, personal enjoyment, and self-defense, and yet reports of gun violence by a very few dominate our airwaves. We have freedom of relationships and yet families are breaking at record rates. We have freedom of speech and we are inundated with negativity and vitriol. We have freedom to elect officials to create, enact and enforce the laws we want to live under. And yet everywhere we see evidence of lawlessness, with the seeming only solution being more laws.
If freedom is a good thing, why is it so painful to endure? Some would argue it is not a good thing at this time and place. Our abuse of freedom is reason for elimination of privilege, loss of the offending freedom. Others see it differently. They point out our de facto definition of freedom (being able to do as we wish, when we wish) is more accurately described as license. Under the guise of freedom, we seem to be encouraging a ‘do what you feel’ culture…essentially license to do as you please. (Some might argue that the current state of affairs even gives license a bad name).
Perhaps a more appropriate definition of freedom for a society that wishes to prosper might be the ability to do what we should be doing, when we should be doing it. Freedom as the ability to do good things, as we ought. The freedom to vote, to work, to think and share ideas, to seek truth, beauty, prosperity…the better things, the things that might actually make us meaningfully happier and not the counterfeit offer of momentary satisfaction from exercising a selfish impulse.
Well, most of the world’s population, does not live under such freedom. They are directed from the top levels of their ruling class (government, dictator, religious leaders and special interests) what is permitted, regardless of the higher callings of their personal worldview. If they are of the fairer sex, they’d like the right to be educated and vote. Many long for the freedom to worship God as they wish. For many this is a dream. For extraordinarily fortunate citizens of the United States, it is a reality.
How long that remains so is up to us. Society has few tools to compel our goodness as a people and only one with teeth, laws. If poor behavior by persons acting as private citizens or on behalf of governments, religions and corporations continues, we’ll continue to get more laws and regulations in response. Government as a matter of course must grow to monitor and enforce the new laws.
Dennis Prager, a social commentator with unusual wisdom, has said: “The larger the government, the smaller the citizen.” Worth considering.
In the end, we’ll get the world we create…one selfless or selfish act at a time. Let’s choose the higher good of true freedom and shackle instead our loose tongues and selfish interests.