I was bored today, and this is the thought that came to my mind. What we have come to think of as liberty in America, ironically, seems very confining and restricting. For example, to keep us safe, we have various laws put in place limiting or prohibiting the usage and/or ownership of different things, from potentially harmful drugs and chemicals, to possibly dangerous guns and knives. To keep us healthy, strict guidelines are put into place and must be followed when it comes to food and health care, especially meat, dairy, and produce products, along with hospital standards. To maintain literacy and competency among Americans, we are required to get an education that meets government criteria, and obstructing someone else’s education is not tolerated. To secure our freedom, our military must adhere to strict standards, and likewise, unfortunately, we are no longer allowed to carry weapons (like bombs) on planes, let alone use a cellular phone while in flight. All these restrictions may make people feel that we aren’t quite free at all, especially if there is one that is disagreed upon.
I’m not disagreeing with any of these policies; I am just trying to point out the enormity of the number of laws and guidelines that is required to keep us safe, happy, and free. I use that bit of irony so I can smoothly transition into this next bit of irony that really got me thinking. Obligations can be liberating. That’s right; it’s kind of an oxymoron, like slowly making haste. However, thinking about it, at least the way that I did, being committed to something frees you from having to reason sensibly. Obligating yourself to a cause may save you from needing to make a choice between two rational decisions about the cause, such as whether to continue supporting said cause or not. Marriage, which is almost always viewed in conjunction with loss of freedom, can be liberating. Aside from liberating any pent-up energy (like sperm), a good spouse can help relieve you of any burdens and issues that you may not be able to, or want to, carry on your own. You can share what is bothering you at work, which is important enough in itself. Another example, obligating yourself to goals, such as a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, when followed religiously, can free you from having to make a decision between two foods, or walking to work or catching the bus.
In conclusion, it seems to me that for any freedom that is to be granted, obligations need to be proposed and adhered to; For any obligations, while there may still be some underlying restrictions, there are also liberating freedoms that make themselves available, as long as you optimistically look hard enough.