When Liberty Becomes a Relative Term

 

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Everyone should be free to pursue their own path, as long as it does not obstruct the path of another…

 

 

I am a Libertarian. In my heart, or at least I lean that way. I feel at least some great extent I have always been a Libertarian. I believe in the advancement of liberty and that people should be free to do and live as they please so long it does no harm to the person, property, or liberty of another.

I believe that the rights of individuals should be respected above all else and that limited provisional government should exist only facilitate and protect those rights as well to mediate in disputes between individuals. Above all else, I believe in Liberty. I believe in freedom.

The problem is those are just words, and words are supposed to entail specific concepts, but this is not the case for words like “freedom” and “liberty”. I feel that for most Americans those have become relative terms. No matter where you find yourself on the political spectrum you will find yourself surrounded by a group of people who say they believe in “Freedom” but more often than not you’ll find they have their own definition of what freedom means. Some people believe in freedom but only apply the principles to matters of money, others claim it in matters of heart and body but are less enthusiastic about freedoms in commerce and trade. Some believe the freedom to own a weapon more important than the freedom to protest or to voice dissent, while others believe freedom means only exemption from personal responsibility or freedom from the requirement to be a productive person.

To some freedom from taxation is more important than freedom from government intrusions into our privacy or that freedom or that medical freedoms are more important than the right to due process.

The thing about freedom is that it doesn’t work if a universal standard is applied. What are people free to do and to what extent? To what extent does freedom become oppression as it intrudes into the freedoms of others? At what do we run so wild with our “freedoms” that we endanger the lives and liberties of others while patting ourselves on the back for fighting for our rights? If we only stand for our own freedoms or those sacred to us and not for the liberty of others to pursue their aspirations and to live their own definition of what it is to be free we are no longer freedom fighters, but oppressors.

In the words of Frederick Nietzsche “When a man hunts monster he must take care that he himself does not become a monster”

What steps then do we as Americans take as we pat ourselves on the back for standing up for our own narrow versions of freedom, to ensure we are not the oppressed becoming the oppressors and trampling on the liberty of others?

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