Sunday, March 22, 2020


This is the perfect time to talk about freedom, because we currently have both positive and negative freedoms on a large scale.
Positive is the freedom TO. I am free to be naked all day, and you're free to recoil from the image that just popped up in your head.  I am free to post all kinds of silly memes on Facebook, and you're free to groan at them or ignore them.
Negative freedom is freedom FROM, which expresses itself as restrictions on freedom to. You are not free to shake hands with strangers, go to the movies, or do any number of other things that we took for granted as little as a week ago. This is, of course, an effort to keep you and others free FROM COVID-19, the symptoms of which run the gamut from none to death. And if you do become symptomatic, from the accounts I have read, you may well wish you were dead.

If you know me, you can probably guess which freedom I favour more. That'd be the one that comes with a measure of built-in security. See, I find when you extend too much freedom TO, well, people get ugly. I know the quote, attributed to a legion and refined over the years to eventually say: "my right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins"...let's just say that once the fists get swinging, few people can restrain themselves from hitting my nose. I say this as a person who has had his nose broken three times. Only twice by fists, mind. The third time was a sidewalk that I tripped on. I landed on my nose. 1/10 do not recommend.

This mindset is not very popular, I have found. Not in Canada, and definitely not in America. We have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms; they have a Bill of Rights. No mention in either country of a Charter of Responsibilities, and frankly, I lament the lack.

It's odd, because one of my literary heroes is Robert A. Heinlein, who was about as libertarian as it gets through most of his career. Early on, Heinlein had political views very similar to mine. They were later almost diametrically opposed. His views on freedom were damned near absolute: he's on record as saying societies start running downhill as soon as birth certificates are invented. I get the sentiment, and for someone like Heinlein, a word without rules would sure appeal. He could, and did, do an awful lot of things, and his wife was smarter and more capable than he was (his own words).

I respect "freedom to" and the need for it...truly, I do...but I find that it's entirely idealistic. You give too much freedom and the weak are trampled. Every. Single. Time. I am not a strong person, and I do not trust a society that won't recognize that, because individual people sure as hell don't. 


"Freedom is being you without asking permission."

There is another kind of freedom that's not legalistic at all: the freedom to be yourself. May we all find (a) relationship(s) where this happens without effort. It makes a world of difference to your mental well-being. 
People often misinterpret that as a blanket statement that I'm willing to accept anything from someone in the interest of authenticity. This is not true. Unconditional love does not mean unconditional surrender. But here's the thing.
Many times, now, somebody has apologized to me for "being a bitch". I wince every time I hear this, because invariably the person who says this is NOT a bitch. She may have done something a bitch would takes a lot of doing that, intentionally, to make you a bitch. Just so I'm not picking on one gender here, actual assholes don't apologize. They just keep on being assholes, and expect you to put up with it. That's where I draw the line, but then, it's been more than a quarter century since I have mistakenly allowed one to get that close to me.

One last thing about freedom: it's inviolable. You can throw me in jail, you can force my silence, but you can not cage my soul. It's too big: my soul is also your soul, and the souls of everyone and everything. I will remain free.

1 comment:

pamala palz said...
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