Ever seen this sort of problem? You are just sitting around when you see someone commit a terrible crime. Then, as the malefactor is caught, he defends himself, saying something like, “I don’t know why I’m being arrested. I didn’t do anything wrong, because this is a free country! I’m free to do whatever I like!” When you think about it, there seems to be no flaws in his words. That is, you think that our country is a free country, but if it is free, then it allows someone to commit crimes. Our country must not be free then. So, our country lies to us, or it is self-contradictory. And you travel along this line of thought, not knowing if there is something that’s wrong, though you feel like it just doesn’t feel right, either.
Well, I’m here to tell you that something is wrong. And it doesn’t dwell in the realm of word logic alone. This is a deep ethical issue that can be a big deal in our society, like with our criminals. As a matter of fact, most people are stuck in this wallow of ignorance. Do you know what it is?
When that criminal piped up about the freedom to do whatever one wants, he wasn’t talking about true freedom. He is referring to license: the ability to do whatever one wants. Freedom and license are not the same things. Properly defined, true freedom is the ability to do what one wants within the confines of what is morally right. In simple terms, freedom is doing whatever if it’s good.
A quick word about liberty. Some people might say liberty is freedom, and vice versa. That’s close, but not true. Liberty is the quality of having or operating true freedom. When a country says it gives liberty, like the US, it is not only saying it is giving freedom but it’s saying it gives the ability to use that freedom. So, if a country gives freedom to its citizens, but makes it extremely favorable to obey the government, we could then say that the country has freedom, but almost no liberty (why would you be free when you could obey and be comfortable with it?).
Bear in mind, I am telling the objective truth, and I pledge to be a free person. You might argue that I am doing what Shift did in The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis: he replaced the animals’ idea of freedom (which, according to him, was actually license) with his own. However, there is no room for bias and wrong in a truly free society. Since true freedom is doing whatever is right, I cannot tell you lies without losing my own freedom. I have more at stake here than you do!
This is a major issue in our society (no offense, but this is why I wrote this). Take the criminal example. The criminal’s definition of freedom is license, which is wrong. The freedom bestowed by the government is true freedom. The criminal then juxtaposes his definition of freedom on the government by equating them, and then, hey presto! We now have a criminal who feels like he is permitted, or even encouraged, by the government to commit crimes. Then he is arrested, and his moral dilemma comes bubbling out. And then you take his dilemma, carry it with you, and soon, despite it having been taken from a criminal, it seems right.
But don’t be that person. Look beyond the face value of freedom. Remember what is right, and activate the true power of freedom. Who knows, you might just need it when you see that next deluded delinquent.