Comment: For most people freedom will forever remain a myth.

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Michael Nystrom's picture

For most people freedom will forever remain a myth.

I'm still stuck at the beginning of your essay thinking about the correct definition of "freedom." If we take it that "freedom is the absence of coercion" it is unlikely that the majority of humans can every truly be free.

Right now I'm being coerced by the 12º cold outside, to stay here on the couch, nursing this coffee. I'd like to be out riding my bicycle, but the bitter cold is coercing me to stay in.

In the days of the caveman, it might have been the threat of being eaten by a sabertooth tiger. Try arguing your natural right to life with a beast of the animal kingdom! After you get eaten, you can plead your case to God about how your rights were violated by that tiger.

For some reason, people think it should be different with governments, because governments are creations of men. But governments take on lives of their own, just like that tiger.

There is another current Original discussing the topic of freedom. KineticX describes freedom as:

It is the REAL Freedom to speak, The REAL freedom to act, the REAL freedom to think, and to challenge the existing system without fear. The freedom to choose your own destiny and not be presided over by a thug who obtains his power through threat of violence.

His key to freedom seems to be without fear. Will humans ever be free of fear?

Say a gay man is afraid to come out of the closet to his parents, and lives a life of shame. Is that man free? His freedom is taken not by any government. It is taken by the psychological coercion that he ultimately places on himself. Maybe he values his parents view of him more than he values being true to himself.

But if one truly values freedom, one acts in the face of whatever consequences await: One is free to come out of the closet, to taunt a sabertooth tiger, or to not pay taxes. What limits freedom is fear: fear of consequences. Of being shunned, of being eaten, or of being thrown into jail.

Your essay brings up in me a question I have been pondering for some time about the NAP, something touch upon as well: What's so special about physical coercion?

What if someone gets up in your face and screams at you about what an idiot you are, how you're worthless, you're a disgrace, you're nothing. He's screaming so loud that his veins are popping out of his head, and his face is red like the devil's. And he does this to you day in and day out, but never strikes you. Never inflicts any violence on you. Is he still in harmony with the NAP?

Ultimately, the NAP is a nice idea, but we live in a physical world. In the physical world, physical force, whether it is inflicted by nature, a wild animal, a man, or a group of men ultimately trumps everything. Ultimately true freedom is a spiritual journey, and for most of us, freedom will forever remain a myth.

He's the man.