What is Freedom?

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What is Freedom?

[I have no idea when I wrote this. But I like it.]

Little words, big divide

Strangely enough, freedom is a very difficult concept to understand and embrace. It always seemed rather simple and quite obvious to me. But perhaps I shouldnít say that, as I might appear egotistical. [It's not ego, it's empathy.] Nonetheless, I seem to have a grasp on the idea that isnít matched by a very vocal segment of American society.

As an example, the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance will do nicely. [Why did I talk like this? Was I a snot or something? It's prissy, that's what it is. I hope I don't sound like that anymore.] We neednít go into the history of the insertion, though we can assume there are many Americans who mistakenly think "under God" was always part of our Pledge. And we donít need to prove the insertion was done for religious purposes any more than we must base our freedoms on the ideas of the Founders. [Hah. Look how I snuck that in there. Snark! If anyone could understand what I just wrote, some of them would be pissed.] All we need is an understanding of and an appreciation for fairness. This is the crux of the problem as I will demonstrate. [Ooh, I'm going to demonstrate it.]

There are two important points that we must come to terms with. [I'm surprised I didn't write, "...with which me must come to terms.] The first is that only a secular government, one that does not approach the question of religion or gods, can fairly represent a religiously diverse population. (And, all populations, when allowed real freedom, will be religiously diverse.) This is one idea that I have tried to include in most letters to editors as it is a basic truth that so few seem to understand. [Oh, I think they understand it just fine. They just don't like it. They don't give a shit about religious diversity, or your religion, or my lack of belief. They want this country to reflect their views, their values, their religious beliefs, and their comfort zones. I don't know why I ever bothered to write letters to editors...oh, wait, yes I do. It's fun to piss religious people off. That had to be the reason because you know there's no getting through to them. That must have been it.] And second, many Christians in the United States donít care one whit about fairness. [Oh, yeah, I just said that.] They donít want freedom of religion for all Americans or all humans; they want everyone to believe the way they do, if for no other reason than to ease that gnawing, festering doubt they must live with when they dare to open their eyes to the world around them. [Oh, snap!]

There is another part of the population that appears to desire fairness, but simply doesnít understand freedom well enough to recognize it. It is with these persons our hope lies. It is for them I write letters to editors and essays at Atheist View. [Yeah, right. I don't think those people exist. You're either empathetic enough to understand why freedom for me equals freedom for you, or you're not. You can't teach empathy, can you? If you didn't get it from your mom when you were five, forget it.] When they ask questions, such as, "Why do the courts always side with nonbelievers?" they are admitting they have a basic grasp of the ideas of freedom and fairness, but something, most likely their religiosity, has skewed it out of whack. Our words may straighten one of them out someday. [Phlbblt.]

The first task is the make sure these people understand that not only do other people have differing belief systems, but that there is a possibility that these other people are correct in their "odd" worship practices. This may be impossible. [Uh, yeah. Not. Possible.] They also must understand that, even if these "evil, cultist, devil-worshiping freaks" are wrong, they have every legal and moral right to their beliefs and to the protections guaranteed by our Constitution. [Bwhahahaha! You may be an evil, cultist, devil-worshipig freak, but I'll fight to the death for you to be one! said no conservative Christian ever.] This may be another impossible dream, because Christians are afraid of differing beliefs and practices for varying reasons not the least of which is that admitting someone else could be right is akin to doubt and doubt must be erased at all cost. And worse, once you admit that people who believe in different gods have rights, you end up accepting that atheists have rights too. Egad! [<Lays back of hand on forehead> Perish the thought!]

So, whatís the harm in those two little words anyway? [What two words? ...under God?] Only someone who can admit that people with other beliefs, and no belief, are worthy of the same rights and freedoms as they themselves, can understand what freedom actually is. Itís not about being able to have a government that supports and promotes your faith...itís about having a government that allows everyone to have any faith he wishes, or no faith at all. The only way it can do so is to refrain from religious expression. Any expression of religion by government divides the citizens of the country into those who do and those who donít. Avoiding such expression does not create an atmosphere of hostility toward religious belief; on the contrary, it leaves religious belief to the individual, where it belongs, and absolutely guarantees freedom of conscience for every one of us. [Who am I talking to? They aren't listening. They don't care.]

Those opposed to secular government and a secular Pledge either donít understand freedom, or they just donít like it. Freedom doesnít mean getting your way. It means leaving the way open for all. It doesnít mean having a government that supports your beliefs; itís having a government that allows you yours, and everyone else theirs. It is unfortunate that even those as powerful as Supreme Court justices apparently do not understand the simple concept of freedom. [Unfortunate? It's sick, that's what it is. Vulgar. A fartload of fuck, that's what it is. Sucks toad ballz.]




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