The only place where freedom has any meaning

Cop pulls man over for an expired tag just moments away from the hospital, where he was taking his mother who was having trouble breathing. Woman dies while cop stalls does paperwork. A tragedy, to be sure, but who is responsible for the death?

A police officer does not know what is best for you, your loved ones, and the community just because he wears a badge. Nor does a soldier, a bureaucrat, or a politician, just because they have titles and government paychecks. If we want to be free to act in the best interests of ourselves, our loved ones, and our neighbors, we do not need to rise up and kill the ruling class. We need only stop blindly contributing to their system without reflection. That requires you to think before you follow the command of some authority - to at least consider the possibility of disobedience, the responsibility of sentience, the stakes of alienating your better sense.

Being free means more than wanting it; it means acting and living in a world that will chop you down for being free. The world may suck in that regard, but it's the only one where freedom will have any meaning. While the state does hold the threat of force over us, it is not always aiming the gun at us. We have a moment by moment decision to make in running our own lives, and tragedies abound no matter what we decide - but the ultimate surrender only occurs when you stop thinking you have a choice.

Neither the cop nor the son killed that woman alone. It took both of them working together to make it happen. The son might have done the only thing he knew how to do - but that itself is the problem, because he did, in fact, have a choice. Yes, both outcomes with which he was faced in this imperfect world of ours were dangerous and scary. But surrendering your ability to choose your own way in your life does not change that reality. It only helps you to excuse your own victimhood, and it is not excusable.

If you want to be free, start reflecting and meditating now on what that means. Freedom doesn't preclude tragedy; it doesn't mean you get to live your life the way you want to. All it means is that you have a choice.

Written on Saturday, March 28, 2009