“Freedom is scary” was something written in a comment to a recent article I wrote. Admittedly, I was shocked that anyone would say something like that. “Freedom” and “scary” have never been associated in my mind. “Freedom” in my mind, was what our Founding Fathers intended Americans to have. Freedom being “scary” just doesn’t make sense to me.
Freedom is not scary for those of us who respect, cherish, desire, and plan for it. For those of us who do so it is not freedom that is scary, but the illusion of freedom that makes us cringe.
The illusion of freedom is exemplified in the whole abortion movement. “It’s my body! I can do with it as I want!” women scream at the top of their lungs. They can have that abortion because they have the “freedom” to do so. Without that abortion the woman has no freedom because the child is in her womb, they claim. It’s the woman’s body and – by gosh and by golly – because the womb is hers its contents must be under her control as well. Forget that it’s a baby, growing and developing as its mother did inside the child’s grandma’s womb; the mother has her “freedom” and can murder the child at her whim. That version of “freedom”? Yes, that’s scary; but it’s even scarier for the baby being torn limb from limb!
While some may argue that abortion is not about “freedom”, I argue that according to the current laws, it is. Was it not an alleged “right” found in the U.S. Constitution via Roe v Wade? If it’s a “right” then isn’t exercising that right part of being free?
Another illusion of freedom comes from those who wish to legalize drugs because it’s their body and they’re free to do to it as they see fit. They’re not hurting anyone, they say, so why can they not drug up and fly as high as they wish as long as they’re not hurting anyone? Freedom in that situation is an illusion because drugs can destroy lives as easily as allow you to exercise your “freedom”. But (they’ll say) it’s their lives to destroy. Answer me this: is freedom meant to allow vice, or to enhance virtue? If you answer the former, you are wrong, but don’t take my word for it:
“But what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.” — Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790
“A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.” — Samuel Adams
Imagine freedom to do whatever you wish — as long as it only impacts yourself — and what that would look like without thought to virtue. Alcohol or drugs: as much as you wish as long as you pay for it with legally gotten legal money (not stolen, not forged). You don’t drive any motorized vehicle (or even ride a bike) while under the influence. It doesn’t impact the rest of society via the rest of us being saddled with the increased cost of your medical bills so no health insurance for you because your “freedom”. It includes you keeping your home up to snuff via yard work and maintenance (otherwise you drive down property values). It includes buying your own groceries and clothing, and paying your own utilities: no food stamps, welfare, or “helping programs” whatsoever. If you have children, no programs to help pay for their lunches, buy their food, provide health care, before-and-after school programs, etc. It also includes you having enough money in the bank to bury your dilapidated body so that we don’t have to pay for your pauper’s grave or your cremation.
Basically, the only people who could afford the illusion of “freedom” under those conditions would be those born with a trust fund who would never have to work a day in their lives, have money to pay for all of that plus the services of those who would take up the slack (yard work, maintenance of the house, cooking their meals, etc.), and would have enough left over after their death and burial to allow the next person in line the opportunity to start down the same path of self-destruction so that we would not pick up the price of their progeny’s orphaning.
Another example of “freedom” without virtue: Look at the explosion of murders and crimes since George Zimmerman defended himself against Trayvon Martin who turned away from house where he was staying and circled around to confront a Neighborhood Watch volunteer. Martin died because he chose — of his own free will (exercised his freedom) — to do the wrong things that night. He chose his path without regard to what “internal invader” was guiding un-virtuous path. He exercised his freedom to do what was wrong and there are groups of young people since that night who are doing the same thing in Martin’s name. People now walk in fear of groups of young people. One man’s choice to exercise his “freedom” without regard to wisdom or virtue has led to how many more deaths?
I ask those who yell “Freedom! Freedom! My life, my choices, my body, my rights! Freedom!” to consider what those who have gone before us knew. Freedom is not freedom without the knowledge of right and wrong. Not just the knowledge of it, though, the exercise of virtue; the practice of doing what is right.
“Virtue is attained in proportion as liberty is attained; virtue does not consist in doing right, but in choosing to do right. This is the great distinction, surely, between the animal and man.” — Lord Hugh Richard Heathcote Cecil, Liberty and Authority, 1910
“Among a people generally corrupt liberty cannot long exist.” — Edmund Burke, Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, April 3, 1777