But this is a good example of the two sides of freedom. Yes, you're free to not be educated, but that choice automatically also makes you a slave in other regards. I believe this is true in just about everything, where your choice for one kind of freedom is a choice for some kind of slavery as well.
This seems obvious in the ongoing debate about "rights vs security," where one side believes we cannot give up our rights for safety, because that creates a slippery slope toward tyranny, where we've given up all our rights. In short, giving up rights makes us slaves. On the other hand, if the government has no oversight on our lives and cannot provide security as a result, do we lose the right to be safe in public places? Or maybe that's not a right? Is true freedom only having police and court systems respond after there's a problem?
If crimes can be prevented through a watchful eye, though, then you certainly have these two sides of freedom, where freedom from oversight causes slavery to threats; and freedom from threats offers slavery to lost rights. Is there a legitimate balance? Or should it be all or nothing?
Another example on the collective level, we have one argument where the government shouldn't intrude in our lives and therefore should collect little to no taxes. I suspect most proponents of this argument would accept taxes for federal defense and oversight of interstate matters. But they probably wouldn't support most social programs, investments in science, etc. If we were free to use most of our money tax-free for ourselves as individuals, would this drive more in the way of personal and local responsibility? Or would it drive more crime because people were without jobs were starving, or because we weren't progressing as quickly in technology and our economy was being passed up?
Without answering those questions, I'm again just posing the idea that one freedom typically leads to another kind of slavery; keeping most of the money we work for is one kind of freedom; investing in the good of the whole is another kind. I see a third option where some types of government spending were indeed investments; publicly funded university breakthroughs, for instance, that private corporations profit from should include royalties to the government that, in turn lower public taxes. But I digress.
In short, I think it's generally worth looking at both sides of an argument, acknowledging that there may be wisdom in both points of view even if we hold fast to one side. I believe this can help us do a lot more bridging from a place of mutual respect; a lot more of finding collective solutions.
And we'd better respect this dual nature of freedom if we want to respect ourselves, because it runs rampant in our own lives. We generally desire the freedom to do whatever we want, but our choices have consequences -- positive or negative in terms of how we experience them. So yes, we're free to eat whatever we want, but if it's sweets all day long, we'll probably face health problems before long. So is that freedom? Yes. But does it create a kind of slavery, in this case to the health realities of how we're built? Yes. So we can discipline ourselves and eat well and maybe this feels like it's not freedom, but a healthier body and mind provide us with another kind of freedom.
Two sides of the same coin.
To me, you see this in relationships too. When you're married, for instance, there are new restrictions on your life that you don't have as a single person. And yet, I find that the longer you're in a healthy marriage, the freer you become in many ways. It offers a whole new world of experiences and support.
This is the great contradiction: that restriction often leads to greater freedom. Indeed, all those who sacrificed their lives and their fortunes to establish the United States believed that short-term sacrifice would lead to long-term good. And I'm sure parents around the world have experienced that the freedom of enjoying a healthy family dynamic takes all sorts of personal freedom sacrifices.
I think the same is true in our personal growth. To keep a complex topic simple -- ignoring the challenge of how we identify ideal vs. unideal traits and actions in ourselves, for instance, especially as we get to subtle shades of "right and wrong" -- it takes a great deal of restriction against our lower tendencies to grow into better tendencies. And while this looks like having less freedom than another has, I believe an increasing mastery over oneself comes with many benefits that ultimately yield more freedom.
And I frankly feel that if more people strove toward this kind of personal freedom, we would have a "trickle up effect" on society and on our government, and it might just be the most powerful thing we can do to change our world. If so, then we all have the opportunity to be freedom fighters, no matter what our station in life.
Maybe the people in the video don't know that we claimed our independence from Great Britain in 1776. But I'd say the greater concern is what we need to continue claiming independence from in our lives today. Our Founding Fathers sacrificed a great deal for freedom, but this is a never ending process individually and collectively. I'm grateful for the sacrifices they made 240 years ago; but I'm also grateful to everyone who makes a personal sacrifice for someone else, for something bigger than themselves. To me, this is what continues providing us with freedom and making our country great. And it's something we need more of every day.