You Are as Free as You Allow Your Neighbor to Be

Question: would your prefer to be able to choose freely how you spend your life, your energies, your own monies? Or would you rather be compelled by threats of law or force (physically or merely “neighborly” coercion)?

What kind of society would likely be more civil: one in which every thing that consider offensive to anyone is branded a vile and prosecuted vigorously through the public stockades? Or that which is merely offensive be allowed, where the “vulgar” or “unenlightened” eventually learn by the example of others? Which to you would seem the more civil society? One that utilizes coercion and force or one that prefers tolerance and open discussion of differences without threats and intimidation?

Centuries ago the stockades in the public square were used to humiliate individuals for moral crimes. Today, it’s Twitter, Facebook and rallies crying “Shame! Shame!”. In either case it is base to use such to “persuade” someone to see things your way. One might gain compliance, but the heart is not won over. More importantly, if the heart is not won; more often resentment is fostered from having one’s basic dignity tossed to the street in a public flagging.

In the Dark Ages, often prior to an execution, the accused would be carted through the public square. The public would often throw vegetables or animal feces at the accused as the alleged perpetrator was taken to the headsman’s block. Today, instead of open dialogue over differing opinions, it would appear that we prefer denigration of the character and motives of those whose opinion differs. Is that what makes for a civil society?

While a symbol may hold harsh associations with one, it may hold a completely different meaning to another. So are we to call one vile and one saint? Even if the symbol does have a historical attachment that is indeed reprehensible, why hide the facts of history? Or should we pretend it didn’t happen? Are we to learn from the errors of those who preceded us? Or should we pretend that our moral indignation proves we’re better than the past? Really?

When we crush our neighbors, slight their views as bigoted, are we not doing precisely the very thing that we say we’re opposed: the subjugation of others to one particular view by some form of force and coercion? How is does this promote a peaceful, understanding society?

At what point do we cease demanding others must behave as we insist or be punished, either by humiliation (the stockades of Tweets and posts) or law suits, court actions, imprisonment and/or fines?

Would you rather have a society free enough to tolerate even what you may consider to be blatant idiocy or one in which every single potential offensive word or act is punished by law? If so, you are you willing accept the consequences when your views are no longer the popular majority?

A truly free society is generous. Why should it be assumed your views are the only acceptable views and some other person’s view not? Should views in opposition to yours be punished by law? If you would be left alone to life as you wish, why not extend the same to those who differ from you?

If someone prefers to not do business with you, it is his or her choice. You are done no harm, even if you’re offended by their preference or the reasons of their preference. Deny them your monies, your patronage and your referrals. They loose the benefit of your money and the potential of future business for lack of your referral. Maybe more so as you will likely tell of their refusal to transact with you, regardless of reason.

Then again, how would you prefer being persuaded? By the influence of example or by threats, coercion and violence? Which would, in your opinion tend to make for a more civil, peaceful society? Which a more divided and polarized one? Which would promote harmony and which resentment and retaliation? *

So, just how big a life do you want?

*Some examples will be posted soon.

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