Liberation through legislation?

Depending on the day, I can be known to enjoy some of the news channels. It isn’t too hard for me to get pulled into the story. Pretty soon as I putter around the house I am talking out loud, presenting my side of the argument and anticipating possible responses.

Some days, however, I have to just turn off the news and escape all the rhetoric and fighting. When I get to where I can almost anticipate before the person answers just what sound bites will come out, having had their party affiliation posted across the bottom of the screen, I know it is time to step back.

Often, they don’t even answer the question they have been asked, opting instead to just jump right into the prepared statement that defends their position and demeans the opposing side.

I guess it makes good content for the networks and the advertisers must love it. If it didn’t make money, we can be sure it wouldn’t continue to happen.

If it makes for good content and the advertisers love it, then that must mean that we are eating it up and supporting it.

I wonder why?

Again, I am just as guilty as I have my days when I can’t get enough. It makes me feel informed and connected and like I am one who is “in the know.”

But am I really “in the know”?

I’m not sure that I knew more after watching than I did when I started. If I think about it, what I have heard are selected individuals who could be secured to make an appearance express opinions that the network and the advertisers are willing to support.

I wonder if we should make a law about that. Something about only being able to tell the truth in reporting the news. No personal opinions. No spin. Just the truth.

I think that would be a pretty reasonable law. Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Isn’t that the answer to all our societal problems? Make a new law.

Guns are killing people. Guns aren’t killing people, people are killing people. Resolve it through legislation.

Mentally ill people are harming themselves and others. Many mentally ill people are no danger to anyone. We better decide the best way to handle this through legal channels.

I want you to have to make a cake for my wedding whether you want to or not. I don’t want to make a cake for your wedding because I don’t like you. Let’s head to court.

Laws are important, certainly. But they are only as beneficial as they are obeyed and enforced.

You can pass a hundred laws mandating the mentally ill from doing harm, but it only takes one person to ignore that law, do what only they can see happening in their mind at the moment, and we have another tragedy on our hands.

And how do we handle that tragedy? We come up with a new law. Because that makes us feel like we are doing something. Somehow the tragedy had some good come from it.

I know, I am over simplifying. Somebody is going to be upset with me.

But wait, isn’t there legislation about my right to not have someone degrade me by disagreeing with my point of view? Whatever is currently politically correct is what we all have to have as our opinions.

I can hear the sirens of the thought police coming through my window right now.

No matter how hard we try, we are not going to find the liberation we seek through mandatory legislation.

I think the more important issue is why we choose to obey the laws or why we choose to ignore them in the first place.

What is our moral compass that guides us to be true to the things we’re told we can and can’t do? What happens in our lives that let us rationalize disregarding or even outright breaking the law?

The truth is you could have 1000 laws against murder or no laws forbidding murder, and it wouldn’t make a difference on my decision to commit murder. My moral compass is more powerful than a legal argument. I would not murder because I deeply believe it to be wrong.

As someone familiar with mental illness, I will do everything I can to make sure I cause no harm. I will do it because I deeply believe it is wrong to harm other people. Regardless of what law may or may not be passed.

Those examples are pretty cut and dried and sound reasonable.

But what if I wanted to make sure my 2nd amendment right was granted and I bought a gun?

I am legally obligated to not harm others, no matter what my mental acuity may be dictating, and I am legally protected to have a firearm if I want one. Can both laws be satisfied?

Don’t worry, common sense tells me that there should never be a gun within my reach. Period. I have no problem with that. Why? Because my deep feelings about me hurting other people being wrong are far stronger than any desire to possess a firearm.

Does that mean that I have given up some of my freedom?

I guess it depends on what I feel truly makes me free.

Freedom is defined as the ability to act freely, a state in which somebody is able to act and live as he or she chooses, without being subject to any undue restraints or restrictions.

I wonder if my true freedom comes not so much as having undue restraints or restrictions put on me by others, but rather put on me by myself.

I am really free when I am in control of myself, my thoughts, my actions. I am incarcerated when they are in control of me.

If you look at it that way, a prisoner in an extermination camp could still experience a measure of freedom, while someone living unencumbered in a penthouse in New York could have no genuine freedom at all to act for him or herself.

Rather than worrying so much about legislating others to make sure I have my liberation, perhaps I would do more good in learning how to legislate my own actions. As each of us learn self-mastery, there would follow more liberation to all.

People telling the truth, just because it is, well, you know, the truth.

There’s something to think about.

Who knows, I may even decide to bake you a cake, just because I’m free to choose to do it on my own.

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