A Dialogue on Freedom

A – Throughout history men and women have fought and given their lives for that precious commodity we call freedom. But what is freedom? The ability to do whatever you want?

B – Well, within reason, I suppose.

A – Whose reason? Yours, mine, the government’s? Let’s check the dictionary. What does Mr. Webster say?

B – “The absence of necessity, coercion or constraint in choice or action.”

A – Hum, interesting. The absence of necessity. So you’re free if you have everything you need? You know, the basics, food, shelter, clothes. The absence of coercion. No one is forcing or pressuring you into anything. That means you’re free to choose what to do. But then the picture gets broaderâÂ?¦the absence of constraint in choice or action. You can choose to do anything you want. There are no limitations on your choices. Sounds like we’re back to defining freedom as the ability to do whatever you want.

B – No, that won’t work. That kind of freedom can only happen in a lawless society and would result in chaos.

A – Really? If freedom is the ability to do whatever you want, then doesn’t it depend on what you want? If you want the right things, things that fall within the law and general acceptance of society, then you are free to choose whatever you want.

B – That’s hogwash babble. What if my wants aren’t the right things?

A – Then you should change them.

B – Oh, I should change themâÂ?¦just like that. It’s not that simple to change your wants.

A – Sure it is. There’s really only one decision you have to make to make all your wants be the right wants. But let’s go back to the first part of Webster’s definition – the absence of necessity. Consider those necessities not just as material things. What about the necessity to feel loved and important? Most people are insecure to a degree and are motivated in their choices by those two needs. But if they have someone smarter and better than them that they could always count on to look out for them, they would feel more secure, right?

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