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What Price Freedom?

September 19, 2014

238 years ago, we threw off the yolk of England to stand as a free country. England was an oppressor, as evident by the parts of the Declaration of Independence that nobody memorizes.  I can’t imagine America if we hadn’t. Would we have expanded over the continent?  Canada did, so maybe we would have. Would we have treated the First Americans better (again, Canada did).  Would we have launched a man into space or littered on the Moon?  Canada didn’t do that.

I admit to being horribly provincially-minded.  I’m completely stunned by the Middle East and much of Asia still existing in tribal mentalities. Democracy isn’t for everyone? Self-determination (illusion thought it may be) isn’t valued by everyone?  Not so long ago I would have thought that preposterous.  But many said that about us in 1776.

America was called the great experiment, one many of us would call a success, and many others (the First Americans and people who came here as slaves (not just Africans, but Chinese, Irish and Scandinavians were also slaves)) call it either a failure or deeply flawed.  Yet the world would be drastically, and I don’t think better, different (probably Nazi run, for one thing). We stumbled into encoded freedom, much of the population unready for it, but eager to try it out.  Franklin and Adams agreed that freedom would only work for a religious people—that is, a morally stable—population. Personally, I agree with them, though I know many agnostic/atheist people who still fit that bill.  It’s worked out.  We stepped up (slowly, sometimes).  If we could do it… but apparently not.

Not this kind of Scottish…

So Scotland had a vote about declaring their independence. And they voted no. Huh.

England today is much better than the England of 200 years ago.  I’m not read-up enough on the issue to say whether the Scots are daft or canny.  England certainly wasn’t going to declare war or anything, so all in all, I suppose it doesn’t matter.

I just assumed any “colony” would want to be independent. Of course, we have our own home-grown secessionists in Texas and Vermont, and probably a few in Puerto Rico.  Vermont is just silly.  A sovereign nation within and separate from America.  I suppose there are smaller countries in Europe…

It’s odd.  Today’s America is, in my opinion, a hot mess. We’re divided on what morality is, what freedom is, what security and God-given rights are; divided enough that secession may seem attractive. But “freedom” means people get to do whatever dumb thing comes into their head that doesn’t step on other people’s rights or agency (with a few glaring exceptions).  “Freedom” and “plurality” are the two sides of a coin, and a currency our politicians need to value.

At the same time, not every stupid thing we pursue is going to work out right.  True freedom means if you do something stupid, you pay the consequences.  We perhaps have too many nets in place, souring the experiment, removing the incentive to get smarter; but in a free society, I don’t want to control what someone else believes or does. I may not want them living in my house, but if you’ve got an itch to scratch that I won’t approve of and you’ll accept the consequences, go for it. My approval is saved for myself, non-binding (but hopefully influential) on anyone else.

I like my enumerated rights; as long as those stay in place, secession in America doesn’t make sense. From England?  That’s for Scotland to decide.  More power to ‘em.

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