Not Free To Be As Twisted As I Want To Be

There is a very talented, very disturbed individual, who once asked the question: “Can you tell me what exactly does freedom mean, if I’m not free to be as twisted as I want to be?” This is actually a very good question, one that many people in the world today could not answer if you asked them. So…what exactly does freedom mean, if not that I can do whatever I want? For the purposes of this paper, we will define freedom as the ability to do as one pleases.

That is a definition that most people would agree with. It would also seem to point back to the original question: If freedom means doing what I want, what does it mean if I can’t be as twisted as I want to be? Is that really then, freedom? Now that we have the question clearly defined, let’s try to give it an answer. What would a government that gave its people complete freedom look like? If everybody’s doing exactly what they want? Actually, there’s a word for that: “anarchy”; which most (and certainly anyone who has looked at historical examples) will agree that that is not ideal. And yet, if total freedom isn’t ideal, then what is? Total government control? That experiment has been tried a few times, with a notable lack of success. So where does that leave us? I’ll tell you.

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Freedom is the way to go, but with freedom, must come responsibility. The reasoning behind most laws that restrict freedom in the United States is that “People are stupid, so we need to make their decisions for them.” If we want that to stop being seen as stupid people that need to be controlled (I do) then the general populace needs to start acting responsibly. This is a concept that has been largely lost on the American populist; as Americans we want all the privileges with none of the responsibilities. But that’s not how life works. Privilege comes with responsibility, which comes with accountability.

In this case, the accountability is the legislators looking at us and saying “You people are too stupid to figure out what to do for yourselves, so let us tell you what to do.” But what does that even mean? What does a responsible life look like? Simply put, it is this: Handle yourself in a way that benefits everyone who depends on you. Your employer, your wife, your kids, etc. Deal honestly with your family, your friends, your boss, and yes, even the IRS. Do everything that you need to do in the best way you can, with the resources available, in the time allotted.

This is what a responsible life looks like. This answer may seem fairly simplistic, but as William of Ockham said, the simplest answer is often the best one. And in this case, that’s one hundred percent accurate. So, in answer to your question, Mr. Draiman*, that’s exactly what freedom means.

*David Draiman is the lead singer of Disturbed. (Pun intended)