Monday, June 06, 2005

In dreams begins responsibility

Why don't people get excited about freedom? I'm not talking about the people who used to risk everything going over the Berlin Wall to freedom, or those Cubans who in a bid for freedom brave shark-infested seas on inner tubes ... I'm talking about most people in most modern democracies who have happily traded their liberty for a little temporary security, and in most cases have ended up with neither.

Why, as Bob Jones once asked when fronting a party promoting 'Freedom and Prosperity!' is it so easy to promote prosperity, and so damned difficult to get people excited about freedom? The answer, dear reader, is that to be free means to be free to fail, and as HL Mencken observed, "most people want security in this world, not liberty." To be free means to take responsibility for one's actions. Too frightening. Much easier, many people think, to hide behind Nanny's skirts instead.

As libertarians often point out, the flip side of freedom is responsibility. If you are free to live your life as you choose, you must also assume responsibility for your choices. You cannot saddle someone else with that responsibility; in particular you cannot make him pick up the tab forchoices that have adverse consequences. Like teenagers still living at home, it's amazing how far some people will go to escape that fact, or to evade it.
  • In a bid to get all heads into one noose, liberal intellectuals try to prove that responsibility is an impossibility by preaching the doctrine of determinism – i.e. none of us can help what we do, all of us are helpless playthings of our genes and our environment, and the successful businessman is no more responsible for his success than the criminal is for his dishonesty, or the politician for her power-lust.
  • In a bid to tie us all to the state, politicians offer womb-to-tomb security, while relying on an all-care-no-responsibility get-out clause for their own innumerable failures.
  • In a bid to smoke their pot and eat their cake too (and to mercifully overlook munchies metaphors like that last one) many advocates of marijuana reform like to ignore the health problems associated with the drug's use, and demand that others pay for their lifestyle choice.
Says Tibor Machan, "There simply are too many people who want to take shortcuts, refuse to take responsibility for their own conduct and believe they can get away with this—and sadly often do—by calling upon the government to force others to shoulder burdens they ought to assume." But without responsibility there can be no freedom, and nor can their be any maturity. Like teenagers still living at home we must all, if we want to be fully human, someday spread our wings and feel the warm winds of freedom beneath us.

Taking responsibility for ourselves is not just the first step towards freedom, it is also the first step towards making those successes possible, and rewarding ourselves for them. In the modern parlance, it is 'taking ownership' of our lives. 'In dreams begins responsibility' said Yeats -- to truly live our dreams, we must begin to take responsibility for them.

He's right, you know.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In dreams begins responsibility" means that responsibility arises from a dream, it's an article of faith. GOD gave us free will which is also an article of faith. Without dreams or GOD's Grace, we have neither free will or the responsibility which goes along with it. I'm a Liberal BTW.

Christopher M. Clark
afghanistanbananastan@comcast.net
(954) 257 6135

9/04/2009 09:57:00 am  

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