Saturday, December 13, 2008

Liberty Trends: Personal vs Societal

Depending on the situation, I can come across as optimistic or pessimistic. I would say I am a mixture of the two. It is because I see things from more than one perspective simultaneously. When it comes to liberty, I am pessimistic about my own future and optimistic about the future of humanity as a whole. Part of this is because I see how far we still have to go, while I also see the general trend throughout history. It is hard to be free while surrounded by a police-state, but not impossible.

In my own life, I follow Robert A. Heinlein's statement as much as I can: "I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do." Of course, I realize this can result in death from agents of the state in certain circumstances. There are fates worse than death. All you can do is refuse to comply or bow down one day at a time and let the chips fall where they may.

On the other hand, I see that the general direction, in all of the history of human civilization, is towards greater liberty in society. (At least after uncertainty of primeval "liberty" was traded for the "safety" and comfort of "civilization".) There have been horrible sidetracks along the way, obviously, but these are always temporary. Sometimes these sidetracks even spawn greater liberty after they are gone as people try to distance themselves from the atrocities of the former Rulers. Soon technology, and a new frontier, will make the available liberty increase exponentially. I just probably won't be around to enjoy it. Perhaps my kids will be.