Thursday, April 8, 2010

The True Choice

Far too often, we are asked to choose "left", or "right", as if these choices are actually meaningful or relevant to our lives and the lives of others.  Politicians make campaigns out of the supposed differences between them and their opponents, even when their actually beliefs in terms of policy are nearly identical.  Barack Obama & John McCain both returned to the halls of Congress mid-campaign during the 2008 Presidential Election in the United States, each citing the urgent need to "do something" about the financial crisis.  But although they each belong to different parties and although we are told to believe they represent opposite viewpoints, both returned to Washington to support the corporate bailouts of Wall Street.

In reality, we need to break away from the false dichotomies that we are taught to follow from a young age.  The only choice that matters is whether or not you believe people should be made to do what you believe they should with guns, police, jail and force, or whether they should be free to choose for themselves what to do with their minds, bodies & property.

What's more, this choice is the great determining factor in getting along with people voluntarily - if not as friends, than at least as people we tolerate.

Speaking as an atheist, many of my friends - including my roommate - are religious.  We get along, in spite of profoundly divergent philosophies, because neither of us forces our beliefs on the other and neither of us supports the use of legislation to do that by proxy.  

Ponder this for a moment though...  

Who are the people that rub you the wrong way?  Are they people who you simply have disagreements with?  If you're like me, sometimes I'm sure that's true... But again, if you're like me, the people who really get to you are not just the ones with whom you have little in common, but the ones who demand that you conform to their views and go to government to enforce their positions.  The obvious examples are usually the "Religious Right", and people using the law to impose religious values on others - but there are thousands of examples on all "sides".  Environmentalists using the law to push people into buying Priuses, banning certain televisions & lightbulbs, or subsidizing favored foods.  Food nannies, war-mongers, censorship advocates, drug-warriors, anti-obesity zealots... All of these people have one thing in common:  Force.

As I've written on this blog dozens of times, people's values are subjective and individually defined.  There is not a one-size-fits all set of "morality", no "correct" level of acceptable financial or personal risks, and no universal standard of taste.

Society as a whole benefits tremendously from this real diversity, though... We are not all mindless automatons.  We are unique people who influence each other in complex and unpredictable ways as individual preferences get adopted and culture changes.  This can't happen if some people are forcing their view of the world on others...  The most outspoken, devout priests and the most blasphemous atheists like myself, the most "liberal" and the most "conservative" among us can all be friends if we agree on one simple thing: None of us may use violence or the threat of force to coerce anyone else into behaving or believing the way we do.

It's really that simple.

So left and right are just rhetoric.  They are meaningless differences used by crafty politicians and orators to set up dichotomies where none really exist, all the while using that bit of misdirection to drive us all towards a road where we lose our liberties. This is happening in the US all the time, and I personally think it's time to end the trend.

So again, the choice is Tyranny, or Liberty.  There is no other option.  Which will you choose?

[And yes, I wrote, animated, edited and then composed & produced the music to the video above... Hope you like it.]

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