Killing The Gray
March 1st, 2012 - R. Rados
Not all issues in our lives can be or should be black and white. There are things that require gray areas. A world made of strict black and white principles would likely fail in terms of evolution, innovation, and general prosperity. However, on the contrary, it has been high levels of gray that have turned our society into the complex, polarized, conflicted, and often frayed mess that it is today. These problems exist because we have found ourselves ideologically attached to arbitrary and contradictory ideals.
Ideology is not a bad thing. Being ideological means that you are driven by a set of principles and beliefs that matter to you. You are living on a self determined, albeit sometimes illogical, platform of values. The fact that so many ideological principles lack in logic is why we sometimes find ourselves clinging to disorganized and inconsistent beliefs and practices.
When it comes to personal and individual freedom, government intervention, and politics, the gray areas and our ideological defence of them create an environment that seethes with obvious contradictions and fallacies. When we realize our own inconsistencies and contradictions, we attempt to explain and justify them with pseudo-logical truths.
As cold and callous as it may sound, the traditional concepts of fairness are illogical ones if you believe in personal freedom. By constantly trying to enforce fairness, we see ourselves contradicting what we claim to believe as well as inadvertently creating less fairness and more inequality. Fairness, like economic equality, is an unattainable goal – unless you become willing to violate whatever principles of individuality you may possess. Such violations exist on all sides of the political spectrum, whether you're a conservative, a socialist, an independent, or a liberal. A massive gray zone has been created on all sides and it defies logic in ways that are becoming destructive.
There is a gray area that blurs social issues and economic issues. It is what has caused some of the worst violations of individual freedom.
Unlike some issues, individual freedom should be a black and white one. Certain things like violence and murder seem to be unanimously agreed upon in a civilized society, so why not freedom? It becomes this idea of “fairness” that stabs a hole in the very simple and principled ideals of freedom. There is only one kind of fairness and it exists within the strict, black and white enforcement of individual freedom and equality. This means no segregation, favours, or privileges based on a minority status. As inidividuals, we are either free to reep the rewards and consequences of our choices, or we're not. This includes choosing to identify with a group, but without the endorsement or protection of a government. A government's job should be to protect the individual, regardless of culture, creed, sex, gender, group, class, or race. However, this simple and basic principle of laissez-faire logic seems to evade most politicians and media conglomerates. The reason is self interest. When a person's individual needs and desires overcome their own values and principles, we end up with a wishy-washy philosophy that becomes subject to ifs, buts, maybes, and gray areas.
I will always refuse to allow my individual freedoms to be subject to the emotional, illogical, and paroxysmal whims of others. Obviously this tends to escape my control in a society that seems to have few principled boundaries to protect the world's smallest minority: I.
Undoubtedly, there are several emotions behind the idea of fairness. Compassion, as misguided and whimsical as it can be at times, can create significant contradictions in the perception of personal freedom. Often we see individuals so overwhelmed with sights of suffering that they begin advocating for forced intervention. The concept that encompasses the idea of freedom from intervention then becomes meaningless as it succumbs to the ifs and buts of reactionary thought. Some will argue that these ifs and buts open the door to something called sensibility. Sensibility is a word that is often thrown around by self righteous politicians and firebrands of big government. It helps to give their contradictory principles some leverage. Suddenly, their hypocrisy is bolstered by a sense of morality and compassion that is packaged into what appears to be a conscientious approach.
Foreign aid, social and corporate welfare, public healthcare, free education, illegal abortion, criminalized drugs and prostitution, and various other forms of sensibility require some kind of forced intervention to uphold. Whether it's taxation (the forced payment of dues and fees that were never mutually or contractually agreed upon) or the threat of criminal prosecution and imprisonment, some sort of violation of individual freedom is required to maintain such noble programs and obligations. Most of us don't mind having roads, a military to protect our freedom, or some sort of cushion to fall on in times of hardship. The problem lies in the lack of consensus on how our tax dollars should be redistributed in a democratic society and what services and handouts we should be entitled to. This subject can be left for another time, but the idea of choice behind taxation and how taxes are distributed is one that should be examined. The idea of imprisonment for engaging in any kind of mutual exchange is simply irrational. Furthermore, criminalizing the abortion of an unconscious fetus and valuing something with no ability to rationalize or decide its own fate, over the life and choice of an alive and conscious mother, is illogical, ill-conceived, and unreasonable. The laws of logic dictate that something unconscious cannot control its environment, let alone its own destiny. The protection of such a thing is rooted in simple emotional responses and fabricated moral and religious obligations.
Contradictions splatter across what should be the clean and coherent principles of almost every righteous ideologue in Western politics, creating dripping gray messes of hypocrisy and inconsistency. For conservatives, economic liberty and free market capitalism are essential. On one hand, conservatives believe that individuals are responsible enough to manage their own wealth and survive in a free market – on the other hand, conservatives believe that individuals lack responsibility when it comes to drug-use, addiction, marriage and sex. This has created an unusual and blaring contradiction that has become fodder for sensible liberals and opponents on the left. Those very same liberals also fail to see the blaring contradictions that exist in their own idealistic dispositions. Both sides divide and separate social issues from economic issues on the basis that the two are somehow exclusive and immune to the consideration of individual responsibility.
Instead of accepting individual freedom as black and white, we find politicians and voters alike contorting and deforming something simple into different shades of gray. As a result, we end up with confusing, scattered, and overly complex ideals. Voters tend to become more apathetic when they fail to grasp something consistent within a political party. Worse yet, those who do vote become single issue voters without ever fully understanding the true ideologies of those they are voting for. Most voters and non-voters find themselves confused and uninterested in politics because so many political figures have blurred solid lines into arbitrary ifs, buts, and maybes. Simple concepts of freedom have been deformed into complex, gray schisms. People have begun to accept some kind of fabricated truth that dictates how we must all lose some freedoms in order to gain others. We have been left with two polarized factions, both clinging to their own black and white contortions of freedom.
Freedom has become something of discord when it should be something uncontested. Self interested voters, politicians, corporations, and unions have twisted and fragmented my personal freedoms into moral, ethical, and arbitrary values that are to be cherry picked and discarded when the health of the collective is perceived to be at stake.
You and I deserve to make our own choices. You and I deserve to be given the responsibility to choose how we make and spend our own money, as long as were are not infringing on each other's right to do the same. The catch is, we also deserve to experience the consequences of our own actions and choices, whether good or bad. When we fall down, we must pick ourselves back up. As long as there is always a helping hand reaching out to us, we will never learn to stand on our own – nor will we ever find the need to help ourselves. This idea of mistake-and-consequence is what strikes fear into most people. Unfortunately, the idea of simple and basic freedom suddenly appears cold, cruel, and blasphemous rather than rational, logical, and appealing.
When we make decisions based on solid and consistent principles rather than whimsical diversions that are later rationalized into sensible or moral causes, we might end up with stronger and more consistent laws. Laws that can still be molded to fit the circumstances without infringing on individual rights and freedoms. Personal freedom needs to be a simple black and white issue that is not separated into social and economic segments. Preconceived and unproven ideas that social prosperity can exist through economic freedom without social freedom in turn – or vice versa – is simply wrong. True individual freedom will only be secure under a black and white principle that accepts social and economic freedoms as synonymous.
You're either free to make your own choices or you're not. It's black and white.
You either believe in free speech or you don't. If you don't but believe that you do, you will likely fall into the contradictory trap of condemning “hate speech” and feeding a growing gray area of what should and should not be considered free speech. You either believe in personal freedom and responsibility or you don't. If you don't but believe that you do, you will likely fall into the contradictory trap of believing that you are responsible enough to do drugs and have polygamous sex in your living room but not responsible enough to earn or manage your own wealth and survive in a free market.