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Freedom: A False Idol

Updated: Mar 7, 2022

Men and women are free to live the way they want. Yet we flinch when we hear of a man who visits prostitutes or of a woman who is one.

We kinda agree to "my body, my choice", yet we get unconformable when the agreement leads to accepting abortion.

We like freedom of speech, but we don't appreciate a man cussing publicly.

Freedom as their guiding principle, people agree to a lot of things that they deep down feel contradictory towards. Their conscience doesn't agree to what they advocate for. This self-reflective split occurs because they are pursuing a wrong ideal. Freedom is good not God (to accept something as uncompromisingly virtuous, irreproachable, and absolute is to make it God). People arrive at contradictory and absurd conclusions because they deify/idolize/worship freedom. Allow me to repaint the three scenes I presented above.

Even though men are free to visit prostitutes, they shouldn't, because it is an ugly lifestyle. There is nothing beautiful about a bunch of depressed men spending money on prostitutes when there are so many better things to do. We won't want men in our family and friend circles to visit brothels. They will return only poorer and emptier, not fulfilled. We want them to find committed and supportive wives. We want to save them from their free choice because freedom is not the highest good.

Just because a woman is free to sell herself, it does not mean she should. She needs to anticipate the consequences her parents and siblings may face because of her free choices. She must also think about her future family. She is setting her future children and grand-children up for getting bullied in school. I have written more about it here.

"My body, my choice" doesn't condone abortion, because choice doesn't necessitate its exercise. When freedom comes in the way of what is right, it must be discarded. I have written on abortion here. Some argue that right to life is prior to women's freedom. But they are merely moving from one false ideal to another, from freedom to rights.

We disapprove of a man cussing publicly because we don't want our family and friends around people like that. Freedom of speech doesn't imply its abuse. He must think of how he is impacting youth and children. With forethought, he must act responsibly by self-censoring. Some call it building character. This does not mean that self-censorship is good. All I am saying is freedom should not be worshiped or idolized.

As we see, once we deconsecrate the temple of freedom and liberate ourselves from a kind of idolatry, our contradictions disappear. Today, I see cults that are driven by ideals (idols) like freedom, equality, fairness, justice, rights, etc. All cults are fallible because none of these ideals is undefilable. People who follow them are bound to arrive at absurd conclusions. Only the formless can be undefilable because it has no form, no structure to defile. Perhaps, this is the great Dao that can't be spoken of.

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