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Would You Rah-ther…?

November 27th, 2013 Posted by Susan's Musings 4 comments

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Some of our children used to love to play a somewhat morbid game called, “Would you rah-ther?” That is “rather” but with an exaggerated British accent. They would ask each other questions such as, “Would you rah-ther have no hands or no feet?” and “Would you rah-ther live through war or plague?” I admit that we did not relish the speculation on, “If one of them had to die tomorrow, would you rah-ther it be Mommy or Daddy?” The questions often led to long discussions as the participating daughter explained her answer.

Here is a question that I think is worth asking yourself and those around you. “Would you rah-ther have freedom or equality?” In many cases, freedom and equality are mutually incompatible values. We can’t have both. If equality is the goal, for example in the boardroom, then a company cannot have the freedom to search for the best candidate. Instead of making the wisest decision, the business needs to check the proper gender and ethnicity boxes along with whatever other criterion are deemed needing equal representation. If freedom of choice is the priority, for example in the classroom, then the computer science department at a university might well be overwhelmingly male and Asian.  There wouldn’t be a great deal of equal representation to be seen.

Our government keeps expanding and enshrining the understanding of equality, most recently wanting to include sexual orientation as a category needing its intervention. Consequently, our constitutionally protected freedom of religion is under attack. In the economic arena, the freedom to succeed requires allowing economic inequality. Both freedom and equality are nice sounding words. However, while they can co-exist peacefully in the abstract, they dance a delicate waltz in real life. 

In our imperfect world, both freedom and equality lie on a spectrum where too much or too little of either one is disastrous. Unrestrained freedom leads to the law of the jungle, where the most vicious and strongest rules. The result for most people will be a decided lack of freedom. Total equality is an unattainable fantasy that leads to misery and servitude for the majority, under the lash of those who, inevitably, unequally hold the reins.

Around 150 years ago, the United States fought an incredibly bloody war to end a terrible institution that made a mockery of both equality and freedom. About 100 years earlier, the country’s founding highlighted the same concepts. This Thanksgiving, as the uneasy truce between equality and freedom seems to be reaching another crisis point we should express gratitude to God for the wonderful country in which we live and reaffirm our commitment to keeping it so.   

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4 comments

tz says:

Freedom and equality are not an either or, they are more like two axes. You can have no freedom and no equality, or you can have equality with plenty of freedom.
The key is that equality must be before the law. Judges, police, the legislature, the executive. Rich people and Poor people must be as equal before the civil law (and this might mean things like public defenders), just as they are before God. Then the poor person with an idea or product won’t have it stolen by a rich person who can do what amounts to bribing the king to permit the theft.
Life, liberty, and property (as well as those things like slander covered under bearing false witness) need to be protected, and laws (real laws you would enforce with violence) need to be there to do so, but when you go beyond that you are asking for trouble. Who defines marriage? Church or State? The state might need to recognize marriage contracts (why is divorce easier than student loan bankruptcy?), but the error with “Gay Marriage” is one of category. When you hand something sacred to pagans, expect them to profane it. Would it not be better to have the law that would respect marriage contracts (including making divorce extremely difficult) and preventing people from being forced to recognize marriages (Thomas More and Henry VIII had something to say about this).
If I remember, there are 613 laws in the Torah. Would we be any more or less free or equal if there were 61 or 6130? I don’t think so. I think they are the right laws, so we are both very free (until we ask for a King like in Samuel), and equal – in that we get what we deserve – the hard worker gets more than the slacker. The virtuous can outdo the talented.

James says:

The delicate waltz of freedom and equality is becoming a vicious tango to the death. We already have a Political Aristocracy with rank and privilege, Rolls Royce pensions and Cadillac medical plans. Now there is prattle among the Democratic Socialists of “people belonging to the Government.” Corrective discrimination is rampant, and will never cease, even once the balance has long been reached, and the scales are tipped wildly in the other direction (this is called Equal Opportunity).
We do not belong to Government. We belong to God. Let us give thanks for the Founding Fathers who established this principle, lest we wake up one morning to find that we belong to the Government, who will assign us our rights as it sees fit according to its own criteria, and then some will have infinitely more rights than others. He who prizes equality over freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom.
A blessed Thanksgiving to all!

Jean W. says:

Why should one groups freedom mean that another’s must be diminished?

Jean, Let’s leave groups aside and look at it as an individual. I have the freedom to refuse to let you enter my house. That means that you don’t have the freedom to go wherever you want. There is no way to live in a society with others without agreeing to curtail our freedoms in agreed upon ways. As laws and regulations grow, we contract freedom more and more by telling people and companies what they must or must not do. Every reasonable person agrees that there have to be some restrictions for all sorts of good reasons. The question is when the pendulum swings too far.

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