The problem with the title of this post being true is that in modern American society, responsibility is undervalued. In fact, being responsible often seems like an exception instead of a rule.
Let’s take for example that a large number of people in America identify themselves as pro-choice. By that they mean a woman should have the right to choose whether or not to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Sadly, this is a very narrow and misnamed premise that was hijacked by people who think abortion is a medical procedure like plastic surgery. I will argue that I am truly pro-choice, although I am opposed to abortion (I will get into this specific topic in a later post, but for now just let it serve as an example). What I am not is anti-consequence. I am all for one having the freedom to choose anything they wish in their personal life. As far as I am concerned you can be anything you wish as long as it doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s rights to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. However, as I often tell my kids, choices have consequences. At what point did the aforementioned pregnancy become unwanted? I think it is taught substantially well in public schools (at a younger and younger age every year it seems) that having sex can lead to a pregnancy as long as a couple of conditions are met. One, you have sex with someone of the opposite gender. That’s it actually…so I guess it was only one condition. Sure there are ways to decrease the chances, and those should be well known, widely disseminated, and discussed. What is disturbing though is that the “pro-choice” crowd is truly arguing that people should be able to have consequence-free sex and that the consequence-free sex is more important than a life conceived during the act. That is not pro-choice. The choice(s) were: to have sex or not, to use protection or not, to plan sex when pregnancy was less likely or not. Oh and by the way, even if the aforementioned precautions were taken, a pregnancy is still a possible consequence! Except for the first choice…that one is rock solid for not having an unwanted pregnancy.
As far as consequences go, some are intended, some are not. The thing about it though is that it doesn’t really matter. If you shoot someone and aim for their knee, trying not to kill them, but they die anyway you are charged with murder. Responsibly is accepting the consequences for our choices. This is actually the bedrock of preserving freedom. If we are unwilling to accept the consequences of our actions (or choices) then we inadvertently undermine the power of our own freedom. For, the very freedom that gave us the power to make the choice erodes when we rely on the government to fix the consequences. Inherently, we must give up power to do so. So if you choose to kill someone, the consequence is that you are charged with a crime and put into prison. You lose your ability to choose in further instances. You gave your power of freedom away and that is a known consequence of committing murder. No one should feel sorry for you. Murder, is an example that we can all agree is wrong and also one that the government must be involved in.
The interesting discussions occur in the gray areas where the topic is outside of agreed upon norms or laws. Let’s take gay marriage for example. Why is this issue so polarizing? Should gays be allowed to marry each other? Of course! Why not? In my opinion the government should not be involved in marriage at all, gay or straight. Marriage should be a religious endeavor. If you can find a church that calls your marriage valid, join it and enjoy married life. There should not be favorable tax situations for those that choose to marry, or for any other social engineering effort for that matter. I think that is the underlying problem (more on taxes and social engineering in later posts). That being said, at the moment the government is involved in marriage and therefore, gay couples should be afforded the same benefits as straight couples for being married. However, there are consequences to choosing any lifestyle. Many people will think you are living immorally if you are part of a same sex marriage. You know that going in. Don’t they have the freedom to think that? If they do not have the freedom to think that, why? Aren’t their freedoms and beliefs just as valid as the gay couples’? The challenge again comes back to love. Why can’t we disagree in love? If you are gay, be gay, but don’t expect everyone to rejoice that you are gay. Being gay doesn’t somehow serve society in a more positive manner than being straight, nor does it detract from society. Therefore, it is irrelevant. Be as gay as you want, but don’t expect me to join your church and I won’t expect you to join mine.
The debate that always seems to follow the gay marriage discussion is what I like to call the bakery dilemma. You know what I am talking about, some bakery doesn’t want to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding and somehow, in the American political culture that ends up consuming the Supreme Court’s time. Here are a few points to both sides of this, which I frankly find comical.
First, to the gay couple demanding their cake be made:
Should the government be able to force a business to support a gay marriage by making a wedding cake? Absolutely not. What are we even talking about? Think about it this way. The gay couple, which of freedom in order to be allowed to marry someone of the same sex wishes to simultaneously strip the bakery owners freedom to choose whom they make cakes for? Do I have that right or am I missing something? Would the premise hold if the couple was in the KKK and the baker refused that cake? Would you be as vehemently opposed to the baker not supporting those beliefs?
Second, to the bakery owners:
I personally think you should be allowed to deny a cake. But seriously, does making a cake for a wedding reception really mean that you lend your personal seal of approval to the marriage? Do you investigate the backgrounds of all your customers to ensure that their path to marriage measures up to your high standards? It is an indefensible position to deny service based on sexual orientation because frankly, it is stupid. Just because you should be able to (in my opinion) doesn’t mean you should.
I am not naïve, however. People will continue to make choices that have negative consequences. No one is perfect or can fully analyze the unintended consequences of every choice or decision. That is why I will stress the importance of love once again. We, as individuals and communities must band together to help each other when we are in need. Instead of looking to the government to sort out our consequences we need to change the system to be built on private support. Lean on each other, have compassion, realize that people are inherently flawed. Support those in need because it is your duty as a human being. It is not good enough that you voted for a Congressman, or Senator, or President that promised to tax the rich in order to redistribute to those in need and help them. Because frankly, the government is not good at it, it is financially unsustainable, and it is not the government’s responsibility, it is yours! Let’s force our government to focus on establishing justice, ensuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare and securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity by following what was drawn out in our Constitution. We the individual people can handle helping each other through the consequences of our being human, and we must! With great freedom comes great responsibility…the responsibility to accept and deal with the consequences of our choices and to help others with compassion deal with the consequences of theirs.
3 thoughts on “With Great Freedom Comes Great Responsibility…”
What do you do in situations of communities that refuse to help those in need? Doesn’t the government need to step in there? Or, what if he matter is catastrophic and the community doesn’t have the means? Love only goes so far, right?
I think your question gets to an important point about levels of government. In general, when I mention “the government” on the blog I am referring to the federal government. The family unit, local community/neighborhood, local government, and state government should all have a far more active roll in an individual’s life than the federal government. The further the power broker in government gets from the individual (think Washington D.C.), the less recourse the individual has to stand up to issues. This is why we have the Bill of Rights (again more in future posts). Further, a U.S. representative is up for election every two years and is represents a much smaller populous than a U.S. Senator, and therefore more responsive to the individual electorate. What we have seen over time in the U.S., not surprisingly, is a rapid and invasive growing of the roll of the federal government in areas where family, community, local or even state governments would be far better suited to deal with the issues faced. I think this growth of centralized power is a response to many factors (which I intend to write about further in the blog), and a trend that I think we must reverse to force the government to be more responsive to the people.
Now directly to your question, I think if a community is unable or unwilling to help those that are struggling that problem should be solved at the lowest level of government possible. I think the federal government should have a small roll in providing a social safety net for struggling citizens like the mentally ill, handicapped, impoverished children, etc. However, I think that the people and churches and private charities in those communities should step in before the federal government does. Right now, I think the expectation is the person in need will maximize the benefit they are “entitled” to from the federal and state governments and then anything needed beyond that will hopefully come from the other aforementioned entities. I happen to think that is exactly backwards. As for disasters, I think that is a perfect example of what we need the federal government to provide. When a humanitarian need caused by a catastrophic event outpaces the local and state government’s ability to respond the federal government must step in and provide the conditions for effective help. Then when the local entities and charities are within their capacity they can provide sustained help.
Finally, love only goes as far as people take it. The challenge here at The New Third Way is for all of us to do more as individuals for our fellow citizens in need. Admittedly, this is an idealistic notion that will take a change in culture to enact, but we have to start somewhere. I think too many people from all walks of life feel left behind and left out of the political process. That is ironic when the federal government is more involved in day to day citizens’ lives than at any point in American history. Through service and charity, which are far more effective and efficient than government handouts, we can make the difference in the lives of people that need help the most. It is not just money, but skills, knowledge, and support. Teach people how to fish and succeed instead of handing them a fish. It is hard work, and it is far easier to let the federal government provide handouts so we don’t have to think about “those people” anymore, but it’s not working. If we don’t change the status quo, the down trodden will continue to vote themselves benefits from the federal government until we simply run out of money…http://www.usdebtclock.org
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