Saturday, November 25, 2006

It all started...

...because a judge didn't like the idea of a woman in combat. Having once upon a time wanted to be a combat pilot, I found the judge's attitude ignorant and interesting. The conversation that came after made me think.

I got into a discussion about the freedom of choice and totalitarian governments. I realized that no one can take your freedom of choice away no matter what they do. A government can clamp down on freedom and limit everything you say and do but the government cannot take away your right to ignore their laws and restrictions. There are always options.

For instance, the American government makes flying anywhere an exercise in frustration with their metal detectors and strip searches, etc. Having flown to New Jersey nearly two years ago I experienced it first hand, including having everything I had with me pawed through by security guards and being forced to take off a good portion of my clothing. I submitted because I had to get to New Jersey to go through orientation for my new job, and because if I didn't get there I would not have had a job and a paycheck. I'd been without a paycheck long enough.

Most of us are so used to following the rules that we do little more than complain while we submit. We do have options and we never think of them because we worry about the consequences of not complying.

Laws are agreed upon societal guidelines that set down what is permissible and the penalties of disobedience or going contrary to the guidelines. When you get right down to where the rubber meets the road, laws are for honest and decent people. Society says this is where the line is drawn and the majority of people will never cross the line or even get near it. However, there are people who are unwilling to live their lives according to society's guidelines. These people exercise their freedom to choose not to obey the law. Some are caught but more often than not most people get away with their disobedience and continue to get away with their "crimes". Some of those people are legislators and officers of the law.

Even in a dictatorship there are those who will ignore the strictures set down and choose to follow a contrary path. Most of them are in power, but a few are considered freedom fighters by their peers and the rest of the sheep who follow the herd. Those freedom fighters are labeled anarchists by the government.

Whether or not a government allows its people the freedom to read a book or travel without hassle or even dress a certain way, everyone is still free to choose whether or not to follow the laws. How many people though are willing to risk censure, punishment or even death to exercise their freedom of choice?

Laws are like burglar alarm systems, a mirage of safety that keeps honest people honest and do little to deter those determined to follow the left-hand path. Think about it.

That is all. Disperse.

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