It seems nowadays having strong opinions about anything can get you into deep trouble. Not only do you risk offending the people who challenge your views, but there are countless others that don’t say anything and simply write you off or agree to disagree with you. (click – unfriend button).
Not sure why this is. Is it that people don’t have strong convictions anymore? Is it that we have forgotten how to rationally debate ideas without feeling personally attacked? Are we afraid to step out on a limb and stand for something that’s unpopular, counter-cultural, or even rebellious? And why does dissenting opinion anger those in the majority so much?
I’ve always fancied myself to be a very logical person. If I’m presented with information that challenges some notion that I’ve held for my whole life, I’m open to being corrected. I’m open to testing the results of your theory. Oftentimes, ideas require a partial leap of faith because not everything can be ‘proven’ to everyone’s satisfaction. But it doesn’t take much discussion or debate to look at root causes, priorities, motivations, and results. You just have to be open to being honest.
I speak and write with passion and conviction. My tone is oftentimes authoritarian (meaning I sound like I know what I’m talking about), but that’s not to say that I am never wrong. I make mistakes all the time.
When it comes to Liberty, there’s very real evidence you and I witness every day that shows when left alone, people generally are better at knowing what decisions will make them better off or worse off than some outside party. There’s also ample historical evidence that shows when any group tries to control us and our choices (usually under the umbrella of the ‘greater good’), bad things happen.
That doesn’t mean people don’t make bad choices or that short-term happiness doesn’t cost them long-term suffering. What it means is the cost of sacrificing Individual Liberty for the sake of the flock is too great to ignore. Individual freedom is the safeguard against the tyranny of the elite and powerful. It places responsibility and benefits squarely on the people making the decisions. It thus creates incentives for us to make good, wise choices. It motivates us to seek out professional or expert guidance in areas we lack understanding. It rewards those that innovate. It compels us to be productive in society, not just busy. Individual liberty actually encourages cooperation and interaction, not isolation and selfishness.
Milton Friedman was asked once in the clip below what the consequences are of continuous erosion of Individual Liberty and why We, as a society, allow it to happen.
The consequences are very straightforward, and that’s the eventual eradication of all Liberty. The why, as Friedman points out, is a little more difficult to explain. I personally agree with Milton that the reason why WE head down this path is because of ignorance – not fully comprehending both the intended and unintended consequences of the choices we make, the politicians we elect, the goals we set as a society, and the Total cost it takes to get there.
That is why I write. That is why I speak out. That is why I read and study and discuss and watch and listen and learn — To prevent intellectual atrophy. To challenge my perceptions. To strengthen my courage and bolster my resolve. To gain wisdom but also learn humility. To seek solutions to problems rather than sit back and let someone else do the thinking for me.
The Atlantic put out a story that showed that American adults spend more money on Lottery Tickets than the combined total of Sports Tickets, Books, Video Games, Movie Tickets, and Music. I personally don’t care what you spend your money on, because that’s your business. But it says a lot about Americans when they devote that much of their money into what they perceive to be the answer to their problems — a statistical impossibility of winning a big sack of cash they did nothing to earn and will most likely blow through wastefully in less than 10 years.
Get in the fight. Take a stance. Stop making excuses for yourself and the things you can’t do. Discuss ideas, debate solutions and be open to criticism. Those that have different opinions or values are not your adversaries. They are your opportunities.