Home > Politics > Freedom From

Freedom From

December 4, 2013

While I am rarely at my best beyond 140 characters, I thought I’d expand on some thoughts I tried to put together on Twitter earlier (you can read the original thread here. The discussion was about the importance of liberty, but I didn’t feel I was ever able to engage the topic. Before we could argue value of liberty, we had to agree on what it meant. That turns out to be surprisingly difficult in the space of a tweet.

It’s a slippery word. Like “freedom”, “liberty” is a noun. It is something you have. But while you have freedom to act a certain way, what do you do with liberty? You can be at liberty, but that makes it sound like a ballpark, a place you can visit but never reside.

So is liberty different from freedom? If so, in what way? For one thing, you can have freedom from as much as you can have freedom to. This is where conflicts arise. My freedom to can interfere with your freedom from. That’s the great challenge of a pluralistic society; how can we live free of hate, violence, even crippling poverty, while still allowing for the fact that sometimes people are not always going to get along? Liberty is constrained not just by oppressive government laws, but by inadequate school systems in black neighborhoods, by science and engineering programs that cater to young boys at their female classmates exclusion, by companies who sue the government for the right avoid paying for their own employee’s reproductive healthcare.

Clearly we’re not going to resolve that over Twitter. And that’s what I was getting at. Maximizing liberty means taking all of our freedoms into account, and making sure everyone’s voice is heard. It’s a hugely difficult balancing act, and it means that liberty and democracy really two sides of the same coin.

Advertisements
Categories: Politics
%d bloggers like this: