Our freedom, starts by granting freedom to others. This is a lot more difficult than itsounds. The place I find myself most prone to the instinct to control is within my own family. Trying to control others, even for “their own good” is a root of all kinds of evil. I want to dictate to my wife how to spend or what to do. But in trying to control others we find ourselves control. When I started dating my wife, she told me if you ever find someone I want to be with more than her, move on. And so every day I choose to be with the exceptional woman I love and she chooses me. Since I choose her, I must catch myself every time I try to force her to change. It’s inconsistent, why would I choose to be with someone I feel compelled to change? The only method by which we should try to change others is by example and by the compassionate application of reason and evidence. The goal should be to together move closer to the truth.
For our children: Be the change you want to see in your kid. Before resorting to coercion to get your child to read, become a bibliophile. If you want your kid to run, dance, sing and play, make those part of your lives together. If you want less TV, cancel your cable bill and cut down the TV antenna with a hacksaw (I’m more sympathetic to DVDs/youtube which are less passive than the boob tube). If you want your children to love learning, be relentlessly curious and passionate about learning. Live your life with the kind of integrity you want your kids to emulate. Change starts with yourself, then the family, community, country and world. Your actions are necessary, we’ve got a world to fix, but it starts with you.
The next step after granting freedom to others, is take action to remove from your life any others who seeks to control and manipulate you. This is also a lot more difficult than it sounds. Many of us feel bound by family and other obligations. Question whether this obligation is valid.
As for the government, the root of the problem is also control and coercion. We still want someone to fight our battles. We want a ruler to feed the poor, secure us in old age, protect us, give us health care, fight the terrorists, inspect our food, and on and on. To do this we grant the ruler the power to take our wealth, invade our privacy, have a monopoly on force, print money, take on massive debt, and on and on. Yet this power we grant, attracts the power hungry, who use it for all kind of things we don’t believe in, to increase their own power. What we need to realize is we can all individually use this power ourselves, much better. We can accomplish all these things and so much more without coercion. So many political conflicts would melt away if we didn’t have to fight over what one solution the state will compel. Yet as long as we seek to control others (even for a good cause) we will find ourselves controlled.
I don’t want to do nothing, there’s plenty to do
The question I ponder is who plans for whom?
Do I plan for myself or leave it to you?
I want plans by the many, not by the few
People aren’t chessmen you move on a board
at your whim–their dreams and desires ignored
give us a chance so we can discover
the most valuable ways to serve one another
(John Papola econstories.tv)
Some might say my rhetoric reeks of moral superiority. Aren’t I being hypocritical? Indeed I am, but if my philosophy were limited by my own failings, it’d be a pretty crummy philosphopy. But if this reasoning appears valid to you, then act to free others and find yourself free. If not share with me how I may better approximate the truth.