The most scared I’ve ever been when my life was in my own hands was driving to a friend’s house this past weekend. There’s one place, an exit from one highway and entrance to another, that the lane lines disappear. Cars in front of me, cars on either side, cars behind me. And no lines to guide me.
Sometimes people use the word “freedom” to mean nothing stopping us from doing whatever we want.
To me, this idea of freedom is like that patch of road. Trying to curve up and out of one busy highway into another without a line or policeman in sight. We drivers had no guarantee anyone else was where they were supposed to be. We didn’t even know if we were where we were supposed to be.
Like that patch of road, this false sense of freedom leads eventually to destruction.
So what does true freedom look like?
The highway lanes, where it’s safe to drive, are the knowledge and ability to act on what will make us happy. When we’re driving in the lanes, we know what we are, what we’re supposed to do, where we’re headed, and that we’re relatively safe in trying to get there.
The highway lines are laws; moral laws provided by religion or conscience, civil laws provided by city, state, or country. The lines help us find the lanes. They are signs of what we are and how we should act to be happy.
The police are people or institutions that help us live within the morals and laws. They teach us what it means to be human and how we can find our greatest happiness. They encourage us with the carrot and the stick. They also help to protect us from those who do not live within the lines.
True freedom, then, is knowing what will make us happy, having laws that help us take definite steps towards that goal, and a society, friends, and family who keep us going in the right direction at the right speed.
The false sense of freedom pretends there are no lanes. It pretends there isn’t just one way to be happy and safe. It is willful ignorance that leads to pain and death.