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Freedom, But You Can't Have Everything

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How do I love thee…Freedom! But who are thee, who… With the might of the Sun, Shines life, Uncovers darkness, And radiates hope...

How do I love thee…Freedom!

But who are thee, who…

With the might of the Sun,

Shines life,

Uncovers darkness,

And radiates hope?



The poetry may be trivial, but the freedom to write it is not. But like with most things important, pinning down what freedom is, philosophically, is more difficult. In fact, it seems not to be possible, at least in an absolute, no wiggle room, sense. Kind of like porn, you mostly know it when you see it, or with freedom, when you experience it. But freedom is also like common sense in that how it is experienced or understood can be different for different people. This is not a problem with the concept of freedom itself, but with ideas in general. Socrates and Plato, the two philosophers who lived 2400 years ago, made a names for themselves by proving that those of us who hold ideas in a firm and absolute manner are easily made fun of.

What we want freedom to mean, and this applies to almost everyone, is that we can do anything we want. This does not apply just to ranchers who feel they can hold a town hostage too their own political agenda or to those who do not want to pay for the use of the land they feed their cattle on (I'm referring, of course, to the want-a-be freedom fighters who occupied a nature center, and their dad who didn't want to pay a fee to use federal land). It applies to everyone, even those willing to pay for the use of public property. I would also like to do everything I wanted.

So did Hitler. And for a while he did, showing no regret for the millions and millions… and millions of people he caused to die. Yet, he had freedom to do as he pleased, which he used.

In a small way, the self-important ranchers, and in a big way, Hitler, these are the reasons absolute freedom is not a good thing. You can't do anything and everything you want.

But you do have rights. So do I and so does everyone else. These rights, however, are not absolute rights because what you want to do may conflict with what I want to do. Someone has to coordinate how these rights are expressed. If your religion requires the destruction of other religions, then you cannot have complete freedom to express your religion. If your religion requires human sacrifice, once again, you will not have complete freedom of religion.

What you have is freedom to express whatever religion you want, in whatever way you want, within reason.

You might, very reasonably, ask who gets decide what is reasonable. What is reasonable? And how can we be sure that everyone gets their maximum rights, within reason? How can me make sure you get to express your religious beliefs, or any other beliefs, to the most reasonable maximum?

I’m going to say, quite subjectively, it is impossible to do this. It is impossible to be certain about the reasonabilitiness of anything. Sure, I can be certain, more or less, if I think something is reasonable, but I can't be certain anyone else, much less you, will agree with me.

We are doomed to live in a society where restrictions are placed on basic human rights that some people find very reasonable, but other people do not. Therefore, absolute freedom, if you define freedom as the ability to exercise your reasonable rights, will always seemed to be denied to some people from their point of view. And that's in the best of circumstances, in a society trying to give its citizens freedoms.

The question of what is reasonable is determined through government. And I want to quickly say, government is not the problem. Government is only a tool to help solve the problem, a problem that has no solution. There is no way to ever be fair to everyone. So not everyone will have the absolute freedom they think is reasonably theirs.

The only solution that comes close to the best solution, is the consensus solution. We vote for government officials and they make laws. If we don't like what they do, we don't vote for them again. I said earlier that government is not the problem. It isn't. The problem is the citizens who do not vote or who do not pay attention to the people they vote for. We are the problem. And we can be the solution.

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Consider This:

Catch-and-release, that's like running down pedestrians in your car and then, when they get up and limp away, saying -- Off you go! That's fine. I just wanted to see if I could hit you. -Ellen DeGeneres, comedian, television host, and actress (b. 26 Jan 1958)

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The Evolving Monkey : Freedom, But You Can't Have Everything
Freedom, But You Can't Have Everything
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The Evolving Monkey
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