20 Oct
Signature of John Locke.

Image via Wikipedia

I was writing the piece on Election reform
when I found myself in the middle of the following paragraph with a sense that
I had hit on another issue that deserved more than a passing mention. I had
just observed that even though their financial situation is abysmal and the
rich keep getting richer at the expense of the people; the American worker is
still devoted to his country because of his love for it and because while
seemingly allowing him to starve, America is after all, their only hope for
better times. And Freedom. America means Freedom. But what is Freedom? Does the Constitution give us Freedom?

America is the nation that they and multiple millions of their
ancestors have given their sweat and blood.

America is the only place where they can have the future that they envisioned and that was promised to them.
America is not just a piece of ground. It is not just the people.

America is an idea. An idea put forward and adopted by the “Founding Fathers” to insure that they would be able to pillage the village without interference. But, unknown to
them, the idea had legs and while they were busy hoarding the wealth of a
nation that idea slipped out and found new friends. People of even greater
vision than the “Founding Fathers”. People who saw that the idea of freedom; of
tolerance, and of the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness meant
much more than just Tom Jefferson’s right to profit from the labor of his
slaves. It meant more than George Washington’s right to live the life of ease
and intellectual pursuits that he was waiting to take on. As a matter of fact,
it meant more than even the new inheritors of the idea realized.

This idea of freedom of choice, freedom from want, freedom to say what we think even though it may be unpopular was big. Really big. So big that 235 years later we are
still exploring it. Not so much in the hallowed halls of our Congress. A bit
more in our Supreme Court. But these institutions are part of the government
structure that was designed and maintained by people who really thought that
this notion of freedom was just for them. The freedom to run things as they
chose. The freedom to deceive the “Low-Born” citizens as they saw fit. The
freedom to buy and own slaves to be treated as they liked and of course we
would be remiss if we failed to mention the freedom to slaughter, displace and
starve the native people of this land as though they were not human.

These wealthy and blessed gentlemen primarily considered America to be a business
venture. And since that time, many others have had the same notion. They see
the idea of freedom only as it relates to them. Sorry to say that many also
considered that it meant their right to control and abuse other people if they
were strong enough.

But this idea of freedom is being explored on the streets of America every day. There is and has been a group of people who see the true scope and beauty of this idea of freedom, or at least much more than most.

They aren’t cohesive, or even aware of each other in many cases. They won’t be holding meetings of the entire membership. They are the opposite of organized except in small numbers, generally to fight for some particular freedom or against some injustice or repression of freedom.

But they are out there. Everywhere. They are the people of America. The ones with little to no power or money to speak of. The ones who are the victims of system of
government that while touted to provide freedom and justice to everyone, in
reality provides those things only to people with influence and/or money.

The victims of a system of government that has taken the ability to legislate people’s
behavior and mistaken it for the right to do so; has used the power and duty to
make laws to support and maintain the freedom of all of citizens and instead
has passed a lengthy list of laws that only serve to control and repress its
citizens; slowly eroding the rights that are guaranteed us in the Bill of

They are the people who hold what they know to be the true meaning of
freedom in their hearts and minds and far from being able to or even wanting to
dictate to others, only wish to live and apply this idea to themselves although
they would wish it for their neighbors also. Many of them are forced to resist the repressive laws that restrict freedom in order to live in harmony with their understanding of  and belief in what freedom means, sometimes at the risk of their physical freedom, their standing as a citizen, and sometimes even their life itself.

They have come to understand that by the laws of nature, they are endowed with far more rights than allowed to them by their government, and are subject to
far fewer restrictions than the current system of government legislates and
enforces. They believe John Locke’s definition of the natural state of man and
are willing to risk all in order to expand our understanding and grasp of the
freedoms expressed there.

State of nature   By John LockeBritish Physician and Philosopher   ****

Locke defines the state of nature thus:

“To properly understand political power and trace its origins, we must consider the
state that all people are in naturally. That is a state of perfect freedom of
acting and disposing of their own possessions and persons as they think fit
within the bounds of the law of nature. People in this state do not have to ask
permission to act or depend on the will of others to arrange matters on their
behalf. The natural state is also one of equality in which all power and
jurisdiction is reciprocal and no one has more than another. It is evident that
all human beings – as creatures belonging to the same species and rank and born
indiscriminately with all the same natural advantages and faculties – are equal
amongst themselves. They have no relationship of subordination or subjection unless
God (the lord and master of them all) had clearly set one person above another
and conferred on him an undoubted right to dominion and sovereignty.”[10]

WOW! Even Sarah Palin and her Fundamentalist
“Christian” friends and colleagues won’t make that claim……….. Or will they?

“If man in the state of nature be so free, as has been said; if he
be absolute lord of his own person and possessions, equal to the greatest, and
subject to no body, why will he part with his freedom? Why will he give up this
empire, and subject himself to the dominion and control of any other power?”

This is a good question. Why indeed would
he need to in an era such as ours?

“To which it is obvious to answer, that though in the state of
nature he hath such a right, yet the enjoyment of it is very uncertain, and
constantly exposed to the invasion of others: for all being kings as much as
he, every man his equal, and the greater part no strict observers of equity and
justice, the enjoyment of the property he has in this state is very unsafe,
very unsecure.”

This describes the consequences of a state
of anarchy. Why must it be anarchy? Why all or nothing? Why can we not be bonded with a society
without that society imposing its particular rules of morality on us and attempting
to control our behavior even inside our home?

“This makes him willing to quit a condition, which, however free, is
full of fears and continual dangers: and it is not without reason, that he
seeks out, and is willing to join in society with others, who are already
united, or have a mind to unite, for the mutual preservation of their lives,
liberties and estates, which I call by the general name, property. (2nd
Tr., §123)”

Again; joining together for the protection
of our property need not necessitate our changing the way we choose to live or the
religion that we follow anymore than it would force us to change our political

I have given great thought to this question of freedom and its limits.

Over the course of my life, my understanding has increased and also my ability to accept others right to be or act or live as they see fit as long as their freedom to act doesn’t interfere with another person’s right to be or act or live as they choose as well.

I see, for example that freedom for me does not mean that I can dictate to you whether or not you paint your house an unpleasing color simply because it may bring down the market value of my house.
I have the right to live as I see fit in my house and to hold or sell that
house as I desire but I do not have the right to control its value by telling
you what color you must paint your house, or restricting your freedom to live
as you see fit in a house painted the color of your choice.

And again, I do not have the right to tell you that you can’t walk around your yard naked, no matter that I may find the behavior offensive.

Rights are positive values. I do not have the right to not see you naked in your yard. I do have the right to look away, move to the other side of my yard, go indoors or even build a privacy fence if I chose not to see you.

This also works the other way. You have the right to walk around naked in your yard, but not the right to require others to look away. You do however have the right to cover yourself, go indoors, or even build a privacy fence if you choose not to be seen.

Everyone wants to have the freedom to do as they think is right, but far fewer are those who are willing to allow you that freedom if it doesn’t suit their beliefs or way of life.

Remember; I said it was a really big idea. A scary idea for people who feel the need to have control over everything and everyone around them. Also a scary idea for those who believe they have the right to dictate morality or deny the validity of any other person’s belief system.

I struggled with this for a very long time; over the question of abortion. I personally believe that abortion is wrong, especially where the purpose is just family planning. I used to become so angry at people who argued that it is a woman’s right to choose.

But as time went on I began to see that I didn’t have the right to stop a woman from getting an abortion. Not by getting a law passed or by using scare or guilt tactics to
manipulate her into doing as I think is right. I don’t even have the right to
tell her that she is going to Hell or that God will hate her in order to gain
her compliance with my beliefs.

I do have the right to express my belief that abortion is wrong and I do have; as I see it; a right and an obligation to tell her how I feel if I am asked or given permission to do so.

I have come to believe that abortion must be a woman’s choice because we do not all agree as to whether it is right or wrong. (Remember, it’s a big idea) That decision is between the woman and her conscience or God.
Whether right or wrong, whether she will gain approval or condemnation from her
conscience or God is not for me to decide nor predict.

My only right and obligation is to attend to my own relationship with my conscience and/or God. It is not my unborn child she will be aborting, so I have no right to put myself in the place of God or Nature and make moral decisions for someone else.

That is why they are moral decisions and should not be made legal decisions. We don’t need laws to force us to live according to someone else’s idea of morality.

We need a reliable information system that presents all sides of the question and the reasons people decide to choose one way and another so that an informed decision can be made with full knowledge of the benefits and possible consequences be they
medical, religious or psychological.

Then hopefully, we will see people making informed decisions in the direction that we approve.
If not though, we can say and know that we have done everything we can; indeed everything we have the right to do to inform, protect, and support that person in making their decision. It is out of our hands. It is now in the hands of whatever conscience, God, or Spirit of The Forrest they look to for guidance on such weighty matters.

This would apply to issues other than abortion as well but abortion is so clear in people’s minds and tends to bring out the worst in people so I thought the reader wouldn’t have to work very hard to get their mind around it and get the problem immediately.

As I previously stated, it should not be necessary to conform to the personal standards or way of life of the other people that we bond with for us to enjoy the benefits of that relationship.

What is the sense of protecting our property if we must give up our right to order
our lives and property as we see fit. We should by this time be able to discern
the difference between someone who is exercising their free choice and someone
who is depriving another of theirs. The difference between protecting the
rights of others and repressing the rights of another because they offend our
sensibilities or moral code in some way.

This “Big Idea”, this Freedom that we are considering is the same freedom we each would wish for ourselves. We would think it only right because we trust ourselves to make good decisions and so to avoid by choice the things we force others to forego by law.

So, it is easy to wish this freedom for yourself. The difficulty and the true measure of the
maturity of your understanding of the “Big Idea” is the ability to allow others
to exercise their freedom according to their personal code; trusting that their
doing so will not interfere with your freedom. Thus the only universal law
would be against interfering with another’s right to exercise their freedom.

Ok. So it’s a bloody enormous idea.

I admit that there would be conflict because we are not perfect people able to exert
total self control but we would at least be working towards a worthy goal. A
goal that we can understand and believe in. No longer would we be working
towards the goal of stopping others from doing this or that but we could occupy
ourselves with living as we believe right and within the boundaries that our
own conscience sets for us and building a better relationship with our neighbors,
our conscience, or God, or The Universe if we wish.

**** Should anyone be inclined to accuse me of using the quote from John Locke out of context or not giving his complete words on this subject; I would like to say “Yes… Yes I did those things.” I used only the words that would support my position. I never claimed to be a devoted follower of Brother John Locke. I just said some of his thoughts were good. Like the one presented here. Some of his other ideas expressed in the same tretise are of no use at all to people seeking a truly free society.



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