September 30, 2015
Feel Free to Eat Your Jesus Fish, Though

Ed, at Gin and Tacos:

The great masses of Americans cling so desperately to their own imagined versions of things like freedom of religion and right to bear arms because those are the only freedoms they can claim without deceiving themselves to have. If those are taken away they would be forced to recognize how truly un-free in any useful sense they are. If people are unable to find work that pays a sufficient amount to cover life’s necessities and to live in a manner and place of their choosing, then all of their many intangible rights and freedoms guaranteed by law provide only a superficial – important, but superficial nonetheless – freedom. We are free, in short, to do whatever we can afford, which, in the majority of cases, is to say “Not much…”

Without implying that the government owes everyone a job of their choosing in the exact location of their choosing, it’s fair to say that if you can’t find work that pays enough to live a life that gives you real choices and options then you are free only in the sense that you are not imprisoned (although there will be plenty of that as well) and nobody can tell you how many Jesus fish and Rush Limbaugh bumper stickers you can put on your car, nor how many expensive guns you can hoard in your meager home that you struggle to afford. Americans obsess over those largely symbolic freedoms, the threats to which exist only in their own imaginations, because even though we dare not admit it we understand that many of us lack anything better.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at September 30, 2015 01:25 PM
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Absolutely right. But there's another form of unfreedom that became more noticeable to me when I returned to the US after a couple of decades overseas: the pressures we put on each others to conform.

Nothing new, but added to economic pressures and the heavy burdens we all carry thanks to marketing -- and to the various inroads on our privacy -- it is difficult to achieve peace and independence.

Posted by: PW on October 1, 2015 3:41 PM

I do think greater emphasis could be made of the increasing acceptability of churlish behavior.

Posted by: Ten Bears on October 4, 2015 4:42 PM
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