In a way it is too bad that the discussion of freedom is mainly limited to people in the arena of politics. Many people in metaphysics and philosophy shy away from the subject as much as they do a fundamental religion; yet, this should not be. Freedom is the defining principle, determining the division between good and evil as we move from age to age. It is the main dividing line between the Brotherhood of Light and the Dark Brothers.
The reason our definition of good and evil changes over the ages is because our capacity to understand and experience freedom changes. In ancient times it would have been considered evil to even think of disobeying the tribal leader. The members of the tribe had no concept of what it would be like living outside the authority of the tribe and making his own decision to influence his destiny. Now in this age, our ring-pass-not has expanded; and our view of good and evil has also moved to a higher level. Today, the closest thing to an ancient tribe would be a cult. A cult, which is tightly controlled by a leader who makes all personal decisions for members, is considered evil. In this age, controlling your own evolution and destiny is considered good.
To see the principle of freedom playing itself out, you must find the ring-pass-not for humanity, your country, your group, your family and yourself. (If you are not familiar with the term "ring-pass-not" you can search the archives for we have discussed the principle in depth. Simply put it is the limit of a person's consciousness beyond which the exercise of free will is not possible.) The way the seemingly impossible becomes possible is through an expansion of the ring.
Let us say that a hypnotist tells a subject that his legs are useless and he cannot walk. If the subject accepts this suggestion then his ring-pass-not does not include walking. The possibility does not even enter into his consciousness. Let us say that a few days pass and he discovers the truth of the terrible suggestion. What happens? Suddenly his ring-pass-not expands and he walks. The sphere of his power of decision has now greatly increased over what it was when he was deceived. Now he can make decisions concerning all areas of his life that includes walking.
He discovered the truth and the truth set him free - to a greater sphere of freedom. In his state of deception he could have cared less if someone sought to impose rules and restrictions on walking; it would not have affected freedom as he knew it. But now that he can walk, any attempt to restrict him from doing this wonderful exercise would be considered an infringement of the highest degree.
Before his ring-pass-not expanded he had no idea that he even could exercise the power of free will in the arena of walking. The same is true of us. There are many things we can do that we do not do. Either the idea has not even entered our consciousness or we are just mesmerized into believing that we are powerless. Our freedoms are within our ring-pass-not and it does not even enter into our heads to look beyond the ring.
We do not usually look beyond the ring until we enter a point of tension (another principle discussed in the archives). A crisis of some kind will often force us to look outside the ring for answers.
The problem with understanding the principle of freedom is each of us has our ring-pass-not at a different level. Just as the guy who can walk will get very upset at regulations restricting walking; the person who cannot walk, does not care. One person will get very upset at restrictions of freedom within his ring; but another, who does not see himself as affected, will not care.
But should he care?
Yes, definitely. Just as the one who was deceived into thinking he could not walk discovered the truth, and now wants freedom in an extended area, so will it be with you and me. If we attempt to restrict freedom outside of our ring then the time will come that we ourselves will find our own freedoms restricted. If we attempt to restrict freedom within our ring, but in an area where we have no personal interest, the time will come that an area of interest for us will be affected.
For instance, those who call for more gun control for the good of the whole, will soon find that others will want to regulate their herbs and vitamins (also for their supposed good) which may be in their area of interest and vice versa.
What then should be the core principle governing our support of freedom? All freedoms to act within a person's desires should be respected and not restricted with the following exceptions:
(1) The action would definitely cause harm or restrict the freedom of others to the extent that the negative is definitely greater than the positive.
Example One: Some wish to take away our freedom to drive over 55 MPH on the freeway because it would save lives. In this case, no one can definitely say you will be harmed by going over 55. The positive effect of driving faster outweighs the negative, an unsure saving of lives; therefore, freedom should not be infringed. (Incidentally, when they raised the speed limit here in Idaho, fatalities actually decreased).
Example Two: A man wants the freedom to burglarize homes. In this case, there would be a definite harm caused to the homeowner as well as a loss of his own freedom to use the stolen items. The negative definitely outweighs the positive; therefore, the man's freedom in this area should be restricted.
(2) The majority of a group, with whom you form a voluntary part, support or vote for a restriction.
Example One: You move into a nice neighborhood which has restrictive covenants supported by the majority of homeowners. You want to raise pigs in your back yard, but this freedom is prohibited. This is justified because you were aware (or should have been) of the restrictions when you moved in. Also the homeowner's society does not prevent you from raising pigs. Instead of moving to a restricted area, you could have bought a house in the country and raised pigs to your hearts content.
Example Two: You think a few drugs never hurt anyone and you want the freedom to sell cocaine to kids. In this circumstance, even though you may believe you are justified, you should cooperate with the will of the majority. If you do not agree with the majority seek to implement change.
Example Three: Let us pick a more gray area. Suppose you need to smoke pot for medicinal purposes as it truly eases your pain and discomfort, but the majority is against you or anyone else having it? Again the person should attempt to respect the will of the majority, but seek to educate them and change the law. He also has the option to break an unjust law, but he should be willing to suffer the consequences.
There is safety in supporting the will of the majority. The majority will rarely vote for an extreme. It may be true that Hitler was voted in by a democracy; but because of the number of parties, he only received about 3% of the vote. A majority would have never elected one with such extreme views.
Jefferson put a lot of emphasis on majority rule. Let me quote:
"Where the law of the majority ceases to be acknowledged, there government ends; the law of the strongest takes its place, and life and property are his who can take them." ?Thomas Jefferson to Annapolis Citizens, 1809
"We are sensible of the duty and expediency of submitting our opinions to the will of the majority, and can wait with patience till they get right if they happen to be at any time wrong." ?Thomas Jefferson to James Breckenridge, 1800.
"If the measures which have been pursued are approved by the majority, it is the duty of the minority to acquiesce and conform." ?Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 1811.
"Every man, and every body of men on earth, possesses the right of self-government. They receive it with their being from the hand of nature. Individuals exercise it by their single will; collections of men by that of their majority; for the law of the majority is the natural law of every society of men." ?Thomas Jefferson: Opinion on Residence Bill, 1790.
Yes, it is true that the majority will often support restrictions that some individuals do not support, but the good and safety of functioning within the will of the majority far outweighs the potential tyranny of a minority.
What about laws and restrictions that go contrary to the will of the majority? Those who adhere to the principle of freedom have the right to seek to overthrow such laws.
(3) A person has the right to make any legal restrictions he wishes in his own domain or property,
Example One: A restaurant has a rule that you must wear a tie if you are to eat there. You may not like that restriction, but you should respect the owner's right to place limitations within his own dominion.
Example Two: You enter another person's home and you are told that it is a rule in the house that no one can wear shoes, and you are asked to remove them. One should honor such restrictions within the domain of another.
For a society or group to maintain the highest level of freedom to which their consciousness will allow, the individual must be willing to submit to reasonable rules within the above three categories.
Copyright 2000 by J.J. Dewey, All Rights Reserved