Tag Archive: liberty


I took some time off from writing. Sadly, when you have a chronic illness, you do not feel like writing. I lost the battle with convincing myself to write the past week or so, and for that I apologize to anyone who missed my witty ramblings about religion. (Seriously, I love you guys. My readers are awesome!)

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As a culture, we have become hypersensitive to criticism and questions. Most of us, particularly when it comes to questions from people of other religions, do not know how to separate frustration over not knowing the answer to a question and thinking people are personally trying to attack our beliefs. When we feel comfortable in our views, we do not like that comfort to be challenged, especially, if we find not knowing the answer troubling. On the bright side, many of the questions faced by both believers and non-believers are philosophical questions that have been examined by people for a very long time.

Both believers and non-believers have something to lose if we cannot learn to treat each other’s opinions with respect. The ability to think for ourselves and choose what we believe is something that most cultures have only tolerated for the last century, and some cultures still do not tolerate this. If we want to avoid the need to take up arms against our neighbors who do not share our beliefs, we need to stop trying to impose our beliefs on others. It is one thing to try to discuss in a respectful manner why you think someone has not thought through what they believe, but we need to stop name-calling and intimidation.

If you have a question, phrase it in a manner that is deferential or at least polite. If you do not know the answer, be honest. Nobody knows everything and it is usually better to be honest about what you do not yet know than to try to make something up. If you are interested in looking in to the subject deeper, then do so.

We have reached a point where we have learned to shout at each other, but ignore what the other person is saying. It has led to a major cultural clash because all sides want to be able to impose their beliefs on others, but we have seen from generations of societal experiments where religions have been banned entirely, such as in the USSR, or some religions have been banned, such as the treatment of Native American religions in the 19th and early 20th centuries, that people rebel. Oppression is not a welcomed part of the human condition.

My call to you is this: be tolerant, be willing to ask questions, give questioners the benefit of the doubt (they may be genuinely interested and if you shut them down you kill the chance for dialog) be willing to admit when you don’t know, and respect the honesty it takes to make that admission. We live in a world that is troubled by religious conflicts. People are persecuted every day for their beliefs, or their lack thereof. This is the 21st century. We should be able to move beyond this and respect the rights of everyone to worship whatever god or goddess they choose or choose to believe there is not god at all without penalty, without fear for their safety, and without having the religious beliefs of others imposed on them.

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Freedom

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I want to talk about freedom.  Many people believe that freedom gives them the right to do anything they want.  This is problematic because if that were true, that would mean you have the right to infringe on the freedom of others.  This means that in order for there to be anything resembling freedom for everyone, then that freedom is naturally limited to those things that do not infringe on the rights and freedoms of others.

It is also important to note that freedom isn’t free.  I am not even talking about the traditional way this statement is used.  For freedom, soldiers give up their freedoms.  Freedom costs money.  If you have money, you have more freedom than others in America do.  Not only that, you have the “freedom” to provide your employees with a salary below the poverty level, insuring they have fewer freedoms than you do.

What do I mean by freedom isn’t monetarily free?  Let’s talk about college, which is supposed to be the great equalizer, but statistically students who go to good colleges tend to do better than those who do not.  The thing is, as a first generation college student, I know getting into those colleges isn’t the hurdle.  I had no problem getting in, where the problems arose was actually being able to afford to go.  Where you go to college, limits what you can study and what you will end up doing.  Ultimately, money limits opportunity.

Money determines your access to healthcare, too.  In light of the recent Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case, your employer can determine what is covered by your health insurance compensation and you then would be responsible if, for example, your insurance does not meet your medical needs.  If you were rich, you could just pay for it yourself, but when it costs 2 weeks’ pay to cover your medication (which is about what an IUD would cost if you make around $13 an hour. Many Americans affected by this law make less than that).  If you are rich, you also have the freedom to buy political favors.  In theory, all of this influences the freedoms of everyone else, but in the United States, the so-called “Land of the Free” we are all supposed to be free.

This is why I support a single payer health care system, so all Americans have equal access to the medical care they need.  This eliminates the employer religious concerns over covering whatever birth control a woman and her doctor decide she needs because instead of covering insurance as part of her compensation for working for you, it would be provided through the government.  Yes, this has tax implications, as did the billions of dollars we have paid on wars.

Since we are talking about my politics, I also support big government.  I think there are certain important roles to be played by the government.  These roles should include: education, health care, employment oversight, environmental oversight, and the protection of the equal rights to freedom of everyone under the law.  The problem I see in our country is the unfortunate lack of free and open elections.  This has been further impacted by the Citizens United ruling, which codifies the rich being able to manipulate elections and buy political favors.  The American government no longer is for the people by the people, it is for the few and by the few.

This needs to change.  Just because I see serious flaws in the system, I love this country and I believe it has the ability to be better than it is.  In fact, as Americans we should insist on whatever it takes to make our country the best in the world.  The first step is to seek true equality of freedom.  This means giving people equal access to opportunities, an equal voice in deciding the future of America, and an equal right to practice their religion, so long as that practice doesn’t prevent others from being able to freely practice their religion.

How do we do this? You didn’t really think I was just going to write a philosophy article without giving you some sort of suggestions did you?

First, we need to work to overturn Citizens United.  It is going to be very difficult to have anything resembling equality of access to opportunities if we continually give the rich a megaphone while forcing the poor to whisper.  Check out the Mayday PAC

Second, you need to vote.  Your vote is important.  You should do your research and think critically about what you are told.  Who is saying talking, who is paying for it, and what do they have to gain from it?  I don’t care if you vote against my beliefs, but you should still make your voice heard.

Third, you need to stay engaged. Sign petitions, run for office, write and call your representatives, and keep informed on the issues.

Ultimately, I believe your ability to live freely, impact elections, and decide how to practice your religion should not depend on your personal wealth.  Freedom shouldn’t be dependent on the socioeconomic status of your birth.  While we are on that topic, my friend Marie posted today on Freedom, particularly freedom from slavery http://t.co/ZfM09mMlw6.  July fourth is a fantastic day to talk about freedom, particularly as “patriotism” in the United States focuses a lot on the idea of freedom. For me your freedom to do something should not impede the freedoms of others. You should read Marie’s post before you continue because what she has to say here is the first half of what I have to say.

I’ll wait… seriously, this blog isn’t going anywhere.

Now, that you have read that, I’m sure half of you are thinking “but Crystal, I’m not a Christian,” so I would like to amend Marie’s conclusion with this.  My changes are in italics.

 Good people of the world, it’s time we came clean. It’s time we stopped hiding … behind the term “addiction.” Certainly one can be addicted to almost anything, but let’s at least call it what it is. Every time we click the link, flip the page or pay the john, we are exploiting someone. A person. A human being just like you. It is nothing short of evil for anyone to abuse another in this way.

The wealthy using their privileged position to impact legislation in their favor at the expense of everyone else is also a form of exploitation, particularly when the legislation there are seeking is specifically formulated to ensure that the poor stay poor.  We have a crisis of exploitation in our society and much of it revolves around the privileges of wealth, maleness, and whiteness, but that is a topic for another day.

photo credit: blinkingidiot via photopin cc