Beyond Personal Freedom

Freedom was the rallying cry of the American Revolution. And that vision of Freedom is truly God’s gift to the world.

But the worm in that apple of Freedom was always the word “personal…”

Personal Freedom — as practiced by many Founding Fathers — included the right to keep slaves, oppress women and minorities, and avoid accountability for the harm we externalized — never mind the command to love our neighbor as ourselves. In practice, if not in theory, it meant only freedom for the powerful.

Of course, the opposite error is Communal Authoritarianism — rejecting all forms of meritocracy in the name of equality and fairness. This extreme demonized all forms of achievement as merely selfish greed, and worshipped only the socialpower to remove individual power.

Worse, both extremes are locked in an unholy embrace, perpetuating a false dichotomy that uses our opponent’s sins to distract from our own.

The Radical Center in this is Pure Freedom — which is equivalent to Pure Authority! We ask not the freedom to do whatever we want, but only to do what we sincerely believe is right — with full accountability for the consequences of our actions. And we extend that same freedom — on the same terms! — to those who oppose us.

Trump helpfully taught the Right to fear the overreach of business, even as the Left learned to be wary of centralized governmental power. The battle over COVID vaccines has shown the Right the importance of free medical choices, even as the Left realized there are real social costs to autonomy over one’s own body.

While this role-reversal has not exactly led to widespread empathy and mutual understanding, it does at least open the door to re-examining many long-held prejudices. Let us not waste this historic opportunity!


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