“….but they SHOULD want to help their neighbors,” said a friend recently in defending her position on a favored publically- funded program that would most definitely qualify as a socialist policy.
With such a simple — and one could even say innocuous-sounding statement – it is easy to overlook the significance of what she was advocating. Could it be that she doesn’t understand that that is not a valid reason to support a government program in the United States of America?
Of course it could mean that; and it probably does for a lot of people. After all, decades of not teaching school children what freedom means and about the importance of the tenants of the Constitution, has consequences.
So, without that broader understanding, in a society where moral responsibility is fundamental to how every individual is expected to conduct themselves, to coerce what is perceived to be the “good,” comes all too easily. It makes sense on one level and feels good on another. It takes deeper thought and greater understanding of human nature and of society to stand against such a feel-good approach in solving social ills, knowing it leads to far worse outcomes. But, more, it takes inner strength to be willing to stand against it, and to likely be viewed as uncaring or even cruel.
But let’s be honest — to force people to do what they SHOULD do is to attempt to legislate morality, and it doesn’t matter what the underlying issue is, legislating morality DOES NOT WORK. It doesn’t work in trying to curb alcohol or drug abuse, or about sexual activity; nor does it work in forcing philanthropy. And, what’s more, the act of using force against an innocent citizen is by far a greater moral transgression.
What one decides as their moral foundation is the very essence of freedom for each individual person. And, to deprive someone of that personal freedom is to murder their soul.
To my friend, I said, “Of course, it is what we think a person SHOULD do … but who are you or I to tell some other person what they should do?”
Freedom of choice means you have the right to choose not to be a nice person.
You have a right to be a jerk.
Freedom of choice means you have the right to choose poorly, to make a wrong decision, to be a moral reprobate, to be unpleasant or uncaring, and – yes! – you have the right to be biased, a bigot and even a racist! What you don’t have the right to do is to force someone else to accept your standards. You do not have that right and nor does the government.
It is the government, by the way, that is restrained from having biases, not the individual citizen. It is often mistakenly concluded that because the government is required by law not to show any favoritism or bias in how it deals with citizens, that that restraint applies to individual citizens, as well. It does not!
Without the freedom to make bad decisions we have no freedom at all. As a free society, we have to be prepared to accept the bad with the good.
You do have the freedom to try to persuade others to change their ideas, but you do not have the right to force them to change.
And, it makes no difference if the government is used as a proxy in forcing such compliance. It is wrong.
Our government was not meant to be the arbiter of morality – hence the reason for the separation of church and state. Our government was to let people make their own choices. The only point at which our government is supposed to intercede is if one citizen’s decision or actions infringe upon another citizen’s rights. Hence you cannot steal the property of another or perpetrate fraud against another, because that violates their rights.
It is important to challenge my friend’s idea that it is acceptable to force someone to do “the right thing,” because that is what political correctness is all about, and not understanding the underlying travesty of political correctness, is to give it full rein.
As government has demonstrated an increasing willingness to codify into law, and to use the force of law, to impose the standards of one group over another, those who have no qualms about using force against fellow citizens, have been greatly energized. They are seizing the opportunity to advance their agenda through laws and social peer pressure, which comes to be a political correctness that impacts us all every day. Whether it’s the freedom to speak on campuses, wear a political hat or t-shirt, censor entertainment, or impose NDO ordinances – we are being bullied and manipulated into accepting the ideas and standards of others.
The common denominator in all these conflicts is the willingness to use force against others, which is also the downfall of socialism itself. If there is anything we SHOULD NOT DO, as a matter of moral conviction, it is to use force against others for any reason beyond self-defense.
To eliminate the acceptability of the use of force against peaceful, innocent citizens would be to deflate most political conflicts, as well as unmask the reality of socialism