Freedom at Any Cost

This concept of freedom at any cost is something that first occurred to me while watching the show Black Sails. In it, the character of Captain Charles Vane, a pirate, is painted as a man who would give up his wellbeing, his treasure, his life just for the ability to not be held down by any other person's rules. Complete freedom no matter what he had to do to get it. He had been a slave, and as soon as he was free of that, he vowed never to go back. This mentality seemed to be at the center of what began the American Revolution, and we see it today in the protests against quarantine measures. At first glance, it seems like a noble thing to be able to claim your freedom no matter what. But when it puts other's lives in danger, when it causes people to live in fear, when it contributes to a movement that marginalizes certain groups of people, it's not only revealed to be a selfish and socially dismissive act, it also runs completely contrary to the very idea of civilization itself.

When people started living together in tribes it wasn't just because they would have easier access to food and mating, it was because when they lived with other people, they found that other people could help them accomplish whatever goal they had. Now, immediately you see there's at least one rule: to accomplish this person's goal. If you were someone who wanted to be free at all costs, you would see this rule, shun it, and not help, and then you would be ostracized from the tribe. Maybe that's cool with you; maybe you like living with the wolves and providing your own food and tending to your own wounds, but it seems like a very hard and lonely existence to me. On the contrary, when you accept the rules and help the community, you gain the respect of the community and the community, in turn, starts growing both in size and influence. And when the community grows, you grow along with it. As a single hermit, you are free, but you are relegated to a cabin the woods with only basic tools for survival. As a community, you may have to follow some rules, but you can accomplish far more as a group than you could ever accomplish on your own.

If, hypothetically, you were living in a community where everyone was concerned with helping everyone else, regardless of any rule structure, then, conceivably, if you were ever put at a disadvantage because of the helping that you had done (say you couldn't buy food because you had given money to the poor), then you could count on someone else to come along and help you out of that disadvantage (by giving you a similar donation or gift). So then, it stands to reason that if you refused to help someone in this hypothetical community, the only reason for that would be if you were afraid that that helper would never come along for you. Fear is what keeps this hypothetical civilization from existing. Fear of the selfishness of people.

Now say that it was structurally mandated for you to help your neighbor. Well, now the Powers That Be have infringed on your sovereignty as a person to choose whether to help or not. Now you have another reason on top of Fear to keep this hypothetical civilization from existing: Hubris; the belief that just because you are a living, thinking being, you have the right to withhold your boon as you so choose. Not because helping is so terribly inconvenient for you, but simply because some asshole who thinks he's better than you told you to do it. In fact, you might have helped if it weren't for this idiot thinking he can control you. Now, through your selfishness, you've become the thing that the people in the first hypothetical feared. You've become the reason this whole utopia comes crumbling down.

It's time to understand that just because there's a rule doesn't mean you're a sheep for following it. And just because you're a little inconvenienced doesn't mean your sovereignty has been violated. Freedom at any cost means complete anarchy. If you want freedom at any cost, hop on a boat and live in the ocean away from any country with what might be considered a civilization in it. If you'd like to accomplish something in life, then suck it up, realize you're not in control and you don't need to be, and live with other humans in harmony.

Well, now, of course, there's an elephant in the room and that's government overreach and corruption. Okay, yes, there are instances when some governments go too far and end up oppressing their people. Charles Vane and the American revolutionists were fighting for their freedom against the tyranny of England, and even if they took a few shady measures to obtain it, they were right to seek it. In the face of tyranny, corruption, and oppression, freedom at any cost may be absolutely justified.

Let me tell you what oppression doesn't look like: It doesn't look like hospital workers working themselves to exhaustion day in and day out and quarantining themselves at home because they've seen the disease first-hand and don't want to spread it. It doesn't look like protestors being allowed to protest no matter how stupid their protest may be. It doesn't look like being able to see reports from every country about how they've dealt with the same devastation. When the government takes the advice of trusted scientists and medical professionals, that's not oppression, that's common sense. I know you may be burned by the number of scientists in the early-to-mid-20th century who were bought out by corporations or governments to make their tests fit an agenda, but because of the sheer amount of information that's available today through the Internet, that's largely no longer a thing. Fake scientific facts are debunked these days as quickly as they're presented, and COVID-19 hasn't been debunked, it has just been ignored by people who think they know better than the ones who studied it.

I'm not going to change anyone's mind or political affiliation with this post, and that's not my aim. I just want to remind everyone of something they already know: don't be selfish. And when you think you know better than the professionals, that's also being selfish. When you fight against the advice of professionals in the name of freedom at any cost, you're not just being selfish, you're corrupting the very idea of freedom and going straight ahead to self-destruction. When a scientist says "don't jump into that hole or you'll be dissolved by the acid in it," and you say "YOU CAN'T TAKE MY FREEDOM!" and run into the hole and get dissolved by acid, that's not noble, that's stupid. If instead, you say "YOU CAN'T TAKE OUR FREEDOM!" and push someone else into the hole, that's evil. So don't go spreading the disease just because you need your freedom. Instead, take a step back and consider what it means to live in a civilization. We are nothing if we don't help each other.