Sunday, April 30, 2017

All 'shoulds' flow from short list

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for March 29, 2017)

Almost everyone seems to have opinions about what you and I should or should not do. Most are willing to impose their opinions through laws, which they are willing to have enforced with violence.

Their opinions run the gamut: You should be patriotic. You should be compassionate to the underprivileged. You should be responsible. You should leave risky jobs to the professionals. You should pay any tax a government claims you owe. You shouldn't own dangerous things. You should obey every law automatically and without question, no matter how harmful or absurd-- and you should support, respect, and instantly obey law enforcement officers no matter what they demand.

The list is infinite!

I can simplify things. You should respect everyone's life, liberty, and property. That's your obligation to your fellow humans, and it's enough. How you choose to follow through is up to you.

How is this any different from the other "shoulds"? Look at the alternative.

If you don't believe you should respect the life of other people, wouldn't it mean you believe it's OK to kill them for no reason? Self defense? If someone is in your way, kill them. What kind of world would result?

If you don't believe you should respect the liberty of others, why not enslave them? Force them to work for you without getting the full benefit of their labor. Keep them in a cage when they aren't working, so they don't wander off without your permission. Pretend you have a magical quality called "authority" which empowers you to control what they do with their own body.

If you don't believe you should respect the property of other people, what's stopping you from taking what you want when you want it? Convince yourself you own a percentage of the money they earn from their labors-- a behavior which mirrors slavery; you are forcing them to spend part of their life supporting you. Don't allow them to use their property as they see fit. Impose restrictions which have no bearing on protecting the property of their neighbors.

Where would you be when your victims realize anything you permit yourself do to them could be turned around and done to you? Anything permissible for you is also permissible for your worst enemy. It's that simple.

All legitimate "shoulds" flow naturally from this short list, while false "shoulds" are exposed in short order. The sooner you learn it and take it to heart, the better things will be.

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