by Kenneth Justice
~ Earlier this morning when I arrived to coffee a couple people were talking about the upcoming election tomorrow and dragged me into the conversation, “Kenneth, what do YOU think? Isn’t voting a waste of time? Isn’t it true that they are taking away all of our freedoms anyways so voting is pointless?” asked a forty-something gentleman who was the leader of the bunch.
In philosophy freedom is something that has been discussed and argued over for thousands of years……what does freedom really mean?
Most people think of freedom in the context of being able to do what they want, and while that is an interesting starting point for the discussion, it leaves a lot to be desired;
—-) If people were allowed to do whatever they want, murder and rape could become commonplace; thus we have laws to discourage such activities
—-) if people were allowed to do whatever they want, pranks such as yelling “FIRE!” in a crowded movie theater, when there really is no fire, could cause people to be injured; thus we have laws to discourage such activities
—-) if people were allowed to do whatever they want, people groups such as ISIL could invade city after city in their attempt to conquer an entire region; thus we have laws to discourage such activities
Freedom comes in all sorts of color. A friend of mine lives in a city out West where the city council passed an ordinance which mandates that the color of your house be only one of three colors; anyone who paints their house a color other than those three choices will get serious penalties. Does that mean people don’t have the freedom to choose the color of their house? Not necessarily, since my friend does have the freedom to move to another city where he can paint his house a color of his own choosing.
Are you free to choose your vocation? People in some countries (like North Korea) don’t have a choice at the profession they will work in; the government chooses a job for them. Yet in the United States, if you are born into extreme poverty, you might believe that you don’t have the choice to choose your profession because you have a limited amount of resources to aid you in life.
Are you free in your own home? Young adults often complain that their parents are putting too many restrictions on their life. Curfews, rules, etc. are often a source of conflict between parents and their children. One young adult explained to me, “My mom and dad can come home whenever they want, and at any time of the night, so they hold me to rules that they don’t even live by! I’m like a slave in my own home!” she said. On the other side of the coin a young mother of three children also felt like a slave…..to her children, “I’m stuck at home all the time changing diapers, taking care of kids. I feel like my whole life is wrapped up in these children. I feel like I’m a slave in my own home!” she told me.
What is freedom? I’m sure a black slave of the 19th century would be more than annoyed by that young adult and mother using term “slave in my own home”, what do modern suburban men and women really know about freedom and slavery? A friend of mine is stuck at a job he hates. He makes a lot of money and to leave his job wouldn’t make sense considering the financial obligations he has in life; he feels like he doesn’t have the freedom to ‘do what he really wants in life’.
Are you really free? An old Proverb says, “The borrower is slave to the lender”. Since most people throughout the Western World owe money to either a bank, a credit card company, or some type of financial institution, I suspect that everyone can relate to the feeling of being a slave to the people you owe money. Are you really free if you have to go to work or else go bankrupt? Can you really quit your job and afford to not pay rent or your mortgage?
Are you really free to speak your mind? If you go to work today and tell your boss what you REALLY think, you might not have a job to go to work to anymore. Managers and bosses don’t usually want to know what their subordinates really think. The freedom to speak your mind is a freedom we don’t really have in life without disastrous consequences.
Am I taking my freedom for granted? Tomorrow is the big election here in the United States. I will be voting, I haven’t missed casting a ballot in a Federal election since the day I was old enough to vote. Admittedly, I haven’t voted for either of the two major parties in nearly eighteen years. Close friends of mine tell me, “Kenneth you’re throwing your vote away if you vote Independent!” They tell me I’m taking my freedom for granted when I throw my vote away on people that most likely won’t be elected.
All I know is that at this moment I’m free to finish my coffee, and that is what I’m going to do,
Categories: Culture & Society