We shape the world and the world shapes us.
FREEDOM always has TWO sides: Freedom FROM, &
BALANCE between the two is crucial. If we weren’t banking
to either side, left or right, while biking or skiing, we’d simply
go round in meaningless circles, like a dog chasing its own tail.
Without first taking the two sides of freedom as our point of
departure as we debate the more specific freedoms of, say,
expression, religion, the right to own guns, etc., clearly, that
is all we do:—go round in meaningless circles.
This is not a matter of opinion. It’s a matter of logic. Rule of
law depends of sound logic, sound reasoning, and sound argument.
And, of course, it’s a matter of the civility that begins with, as
Aristotle had it, the educated mind’s ability to hold two opposing
views at the same time, like opposite weights on Justice’s scale.
In this view, these matters of democratic discourse and dialogue
transcend any particular interpretation of specific rights,
constitutional or otherwise. You may have a right TO own a gun.
But I also have a right to be free FROM your gun violence.
The common ground of democratic community depends on
this natural give and take of debate, and not merely the throwing
of stones at each other characteristic of ‘hate radio’ and
conclusionary rhetoric, or the current (pandemic) mistake
of reasoning backwards from arbitrary conclusions.
Transcending problems of outward freedom, however, is the far
more crucial and revolutionary question of inner freedom. It asks
if I can be radically and wholly be free of thought’s divisive and
destructive tendency to identify with my ideas, opinions and
beliefs. It makes no sense to shout from the rooftops about
my outward freedom—right or wrong— ‘to bears arms,’ while
at the same time I’m inwardly but a blind slave to my violent
attachment to this thought. It may well be that the future
of Democracy depends on this form of enlightened freedom
or non-attachment. I think it does.