Be a Lover of Freedom

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Dear Son,

Western Civilization is the result of a long debate that started with a man named Socrates around 390BC.  The question that Socrates posed both in his life, and with the way he died was this:

Am I my own person, free to do what I think is right, or am I a part of my society who must do what he is told?

It is the most important question that shaped the culture of Europe and the Americas for 2400 years now.

No other branch of humanity had dared consider the idea that we might be better off making our own choices, and seeing our family, our town, and our countries as something that we have to compromise with, but don’t belong to.  In the times when we have favored Individual Freedom over Collectivism we have worked marvels.

All people strive to be loved and respected by their peers.  We have an instinct to prove ourselves and do something that changes the world.  Boys in particular, are driven with a need to prove that they are worthy and helpful people.  We consider a Boy to be a Man when he has shown that he is capable of doing something great.  This powerful impulse when combined with the Freedom to try and do new things can have amazing results.

In a Free Land, this impulse (I call it “Masculine Power” in some of my other works) leads people to innovate all the time.  When you are free to try or do almost anything that doesn’t hurt other people, if you can think up a new invention, service, or process and do what it takes to share it with the world, you can make a fortune, build a company that lasts a hundred years, or get your name in the History Books.

In a truly Free Land there is less violence, less crime, and less distrust, because nobody is afraid that they will be hurt if they speak out or do something others don’t like.  Although, there does tend to be a lot more loud and boisterous arguing, because free people often are very strong in their opinions, and are willing to shout loudly for them.  This is a good thing, too, because it means that every idea, good or bad can end up on display for everyone to see, and bad ideas rarely survive the criticism of thousands of free men picking them apart with clever arguments.

Free Lands are fairer than some (although Life is not fair, sadly), because no matter what you start with, if you are willing to work hard, make good decisions, refuse to be a victim or buy into bad ideologies, you can make your life better.  It does mean you have to work hard, though, because a free land can be unpredictable.  Most rich and successful people don’t stay super-rich for very long, although most poor people don’t stay poor forever either.

Unfortunately, there is no perfectly free land in the world.  I wish there were: I would take you there in a heartbeat.

Many Western Countries like the U.S.A., Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and France have tried to make themselves the freest countries in the world.  But they rely too much on governments and laws not just to create freedom, but also to try to create more “safety”, “equality” or “jobs”.  Making laws to create any of those things only happen when you strangle freedom to make it happen.

Today, we are moving away from Freedom in our countries.  There are a lot of people who claim to be doing good in the name of ‘progress’ and ‘equality’ that seem to think telling us what to say and what to think is the way to make those goals happen.  There are police and governments who in the name of keeping us safe have become violent, dangerous, and step a little more on our freedoms all of the time.

Son, know that Freedom, mixed with vigilance and hard work is what will make you, and everyone you care about prosper.  Be ready to stand up for your freedoms, and when people claim to be doing good work, but talk about how some people are undeserving, or how some people’s words need to be silenced, walk away or call them out loudly on their hypocrisy:  You can’t have real equality if the people with the “wrong” ideas aren’t allowed to speak, and you can’t have “Progress” when you are preventing one group from prospering to serve the interests of another.

I have hope, though.  Cultures move in a spiraling motion, we reach a new peak of freedom, then we shy away from it for awhile, then – so long as good men are willing to speak up – we move forward to another, bigger pinnacle of freedom.  In time, I think the wealth, safety, and good health that we experience as a product of the inventions of Free Men and Women will answer Socrates’ great question.

Attached a copy of Plato’s “The Apology”, an account of the trial of Socrates by his disciple: The Apology

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