Toon & text by John Auchter
Freedom is essential for a happy life and true success. I don’t think most would argue with that. But like most good things, freedom can be appropriated for self-serving purposes.
Fifty years ago, this sort of appropriation was something that tended to be associated with the left. Freedom to have sex without any responsibility, freedom to take drugs without personal or social consequence, freedom to market and sell to youth without ever providing anything of real value. Creates a certain picture, right? Dirty, filthy, commie, godless, hippie, scumbag. (The specific character that pops to my mind is Wesley, Jenny’s abusive boyfriend in Forrest Gump.)
Today, however, the appropriation of freedom for self-serving purposes seems much more associated with the right. Freedom to remove environmental safeguards without any real thought to the consequences. Freedom to finance tax breaks for the very rich by denying healthcare access to the working poor. Freedom to propagate unapologetic lies as long as they create a political advantage. (A whole host of non-fictional characters pop to mind for this.)
In both cases, the selfish march under the banner of “freedom” — and freedom becomes merely a means to an end.
Is that a reasonable parallel? I hope so. Because on Memorial Day weekend I not only appreciate the freedom to express my opinions, I also try to be mindful of the responsibilities that come with it.