Freedom To Be

 

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We are a nation of individuals who choose to live together in a shared democracy. We believe "all men are created equally", and that the "enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people".

Nothing is more important, nor more frustrating, than tolerating the uniqueness of every individual. Other countries, with more homogeneous societies, tolerate less diversity in behavior- often to the detriment of its citizens, and with burdensome limits on individuality in the name of consensus. We find a way to make divesity work, and turn it into a source of enduring strength.

The Freedom to Be encompasses all aspects of thought and behavior that define us as unique individuals. It includes the Freedom to Believe in God; or not to. The Freedom to Believe in Astrology divining the course of our lives; or of lives moving to the beat of Newton's Laws. The Freedom to speak our mind in public, and to act according to our beliefs. The Freedom to Be wrong. The Freedom to Belong to groups of our choosing, and the Freedom to Be left alone. The freedom to keep our thoughts to ourselves; to be ourselves in that most private of all places, our mind.

Like all core values, the one's scope is constrained by the other three. We can advocate for war or peace, but if we destroy property or lives along the way, must be held accountable for our actions. We can teach ourselves and our children our own particular version of the truth- but if our children are beaten, or abused, or make dangerous decisions as a result- the community can act in the parent's stead.

We are free to be ourselves, but recognize we cannot survive and prosper without relying on others.

Suicide We are not free to murder others; nor cause injury or harm though our direct actions or neglect. But, it is our right as individuals to harm ourselves - no matter how unwise. We can tattoo our arms, eat a dangerously fat diet, jump off tall buildings attached to huge rubber bands, and finally- to take our own lives in a manner and time of our choosing. Certainly, some religious groups have moral objections to suicide. Certainly, most insurance policies differentiate their benefit payouts based on the cause of death. Certainly, our responsibility to others might impel us to counsel a friend to reconsider, and we must be accountable if we assist in a death. But in the end, suicide is the ultimate Freedom and its harm to society does not outweigh the Freedom to no longer Be.
Birth Control

Reproductive decisions are among the most important decisions a family, couple or individual can make. There are many forms of birth control- abstinence, condoms, the rhythm method, the "pill", and abortion- among others. Some form of birth control is REQUIRED by all adults- simply letting nature take its course abdicates our accountability to a potential new life, and a responsibility to be prepared to raise them in a healthy and loving environment. While there remains an ethical question over abortion, most forms of birth control (in particular condoms and the pill) do not destroy a fetus. Those forms must be available with little or no restrictions for adult use. Moral issues, such as a presumption birth control leads to promiscuity which leads to AIDs, or birth control encourages a society of single parents, has no statistical validity and more importantly, interferes with the Freedom to Be.

In particular, government foreign aid restricting the use of non-abortive birth control cannot be prohibited. Otherwise, we must be accountable for the deaths and despair caused by the spread of AIDs, or the birth of children almost certain to die in horrible conditions, because we let one moral concern lead to an immoral outcome.

Head scarves, crosses and peace signs Religious and political symbols are powerful reminders of who we are and what we stand for. In general, we have a freedom to "Be" ourselves, and to share our beliefs with others through public displays. However, in some circumstances wearing those symbols can be used to exclude or harass others. As long as coercion and favoritism is avoided or punished, then displaying these privates symbols in public are welcomed.
Snowmobiles A loud snowmobile coursing through a pristine valley is a travesty for some, or an exhilarating dash to freedom for others. While many see this expression of individuality as an insult to nature, many others view a street filled with antiwar protester as a blight on America. As long as the damage done to the environment is small and recoverable, reasonable snowmobile access to national parks is consistent with democratic core values.
Future Discussions Self-incrimination, Freedom of religion, euthanasia, ..

 

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