Freedom. It’s a fascinating concept with a checkered past in human history. Presumedly, before we had city-states and division of labor, people were free from laws other than their obligations within their small groups.
Eventually, the powerful centralizing force of civilization, with few exceptions, placed the power to decide in fewer and fewer hands. Over the past 500 years or so, there has been a massive push toward granting the individual more autonomy over his or her life. It’s been a bloody struggle filled with periods of two steps forward and one step back.
By the dawn of the 20th century at least politically if not economically, people in the “western democracies” achieved a level of freedom unparalleled in human history. It wasn’t and isn’t perfect. We still have fallen short of gender and racial fairness, but the leaps forward, compared with most of human history, are amazing.
However, our success in carving out space for the individual and the relative prosperity that has accompanied it, have spawned mindsets that threaten the very principles upon which that freedom is based.
Every one is very familiar with his or her rights and we have expanded that conception so much that, for some, it now means the freedom not to encounter any idea not compatible with one’s own conception of the world. A span of concepts from political and religious exceptionalism to hair-trigger offense mechanism have breached the basic contract upon which individual freedom is written. That is that you can have as much freedom as you’ll allow for others.
In this freest time in human history, many are now willing to use the heavy hand of the state to silence, censor, and curtail the freedom of people for the mere sin of disagreeing with them.
This has brought us to a crossroads. Do we truly believe in the freedom to disagree and will individual freedom be a feature of human society in the future or will our selfishness and need to have a world white-washed of all opposing views and lifestyles plunge us back into the darkness of a tyranny where those choices are made for all by a few societal arbiters?
This question will be answered by all of us and each of us. It comes down to the ways in which you interact with your world every day. Do you support freedom even for those you oppose or despise or do you reach for the easy button of shutting them down? is the principle of freedom alive enough in you to see that the only way any of us can have it is to allow all of us to have it?
A better you is often hamstrung by the culture you live in and we are creating that culture every single day with every single interaction. What kind of culture are you choosing?
I LOVE ALL of you and I support your right to be you. Thanks for stopping by and for challenging your paradigms!