On The Doctrines Of Freedom And Individualism

Posted in Blogosphere, Encouragement, For Meditation on  | 4 minutes | 4 Comments →

I went and paid a visit to my friend The Ghost today, and I'm glad I did. Whenever I need respite from the stupidity of polemical arguments and fruitless banter, I visit him. The Ghost writes about real talk, straight-up soul-stuff that forces you to step back and examine yourself, your actions, and the world around you, and more importantly, how each of those things intertwine in their inherently symbiotic, causal relationships.

For a long time I've had a certain train of thoughts going through my mind, thoughts about freedom, individualism, and their intrinsic weaknesses. See, don't get me wrong, I love freedom in any and all forms.

The Ghost penned a single sentence that describes so eloquently and so succinctly the dilemma of freedom:

Hurting oneself only ends in pain inflicted upon others.

Now, of course, we could nitpick this statement and find an instance where it is not true. If I fall and scrape my elbow while skateboarding, I can't see that as pain inflicted upon others. If I bump my head reaching for a bowl of cereal, I can't see that as pain inflicted upon others. When I slam my finger in a car door, I can't see that as pain inflicted upon others. This is not at all where my friend was going with his statement.

The doctrines of freedom and individualism stamp upon our hearts the idea that whatsoever we wish to pursue is acceptable and decreed so long as it doesn't hurt others, and I think this idea is wrong.

Sure, I'm free to become a blundering alcoholic who needs another person to button my pants and stand me up because I'm so drunk, and there are those who would argue that I'm hurting only myself. They're wrong.

Sure, I'm free to get hooked on heroin or speed and become another useless and empty caricature of a human being, and there are those who would argue that I'm hurting only myself. They're wrong. 

Sure, it's my Constitutionally-protected right to lock myself in my home all day and look at porn on the internet, and there are those who would say I'm not hurting anybody. They're also wrong.

Yes, it's perfectly legal for me to become a cold, stingy businessman, and there are those who would argue that I'm not hurting anybody. And they're wrong, too.

You see, in each of these examples our fundamental human connectedness is ignored. People need to realize the dangers of individualism gone overboard. Wrongdoing occurs both via commission and omission. The things you decide to do also decide the things you will not do.

That man lying in a pile of puke on the street corner could have been the man who discovered a cure for cancer. That woman who got hooked on heroin and ended up getting beat to death in a dark alley could have been the first female President. That man who deemed ass and titties on the internet the most important thing in life could have been the man who helped transform his neighborhood into a safe and thriving creative community. That greedy businessman who spent his entire life driven by the insatiable desire for personal gain could have traded his selfish ambitions for clean water, food and medical facilities for those in need.

I can do more. You can do more. The world absolutely needs us to do more. Freedom and individualism are perhaps the greatest liberties. Accordingly, they are our most crucial responsibilities, and unfortunately, when misunderstood they can become our grossest tragedies.

Back to The Ghost:

If you don't have faith and confidence in the people close to you, how can you expect them to have those convictions in themselves? The best thing you could do for a suffering person is to tell them that you have faith and confidence in them to make their lives healthier. Imagine how motivated you could be if everyone told you that you could do it, just imagine.

Hat tip to The Ghost. Do something, encourage someone, today.


  1. Greg Lang


    I am extremely flattered. Thank you. As a writer to have one person get what you are saying is the best thing that can happen.

  2. cl


    No problem. It’s also fun when people don’t get what you are saying but think they do. That’s always a hoot!

  3. Hola.
    When you wrote about being free to become a drug, porn, or money addict, I could not help but think “Is being an addict a free choice or an abdication of freedom?” Even assuming some hereditary factors when it comes to addiction, doesn’t one have a responsibility to free oneself from addiction?
    The irony, I suppose, is that you can choose to surrender your freedom in exchange for self indulgence– to be a slave to your passions rather than self consciously navigate our way through this life. Either is a choice, I guess. Didn’t somebody say something like “Man is condemned to be free?” Sartre, maybe?
    Erich Fromm wrote an interesting book entitled “Escape From Freedom” that follows this train of thought.
    Nice post.

  4. cl


    Is being an addict a free choice or an abdication of freedom?

    Good question. The first uses of anything are almost always choices, but there certainly seems to be a fine line, doesn’t there? I drink, for example, and I’ve been known to get a little outta control and do it big, but I also spend far more time sober and trying to make right choices, choices that actually bring discernible benefits to somebody.
    It’s almost as if addiction is the penalty for irresponsible choice patterns, and yes, I couldn’t agree with you more that the addict has a responsibility to free his or herself – not just drug addicts, but money addicts, porn addicts, power addicts, on down the line – and their responsibility is of course to themselves and their families primarily, but also extends equally to all of us.
    Call it cliche, but we are all connected and I think that was the point of Ghost’s original post. I know such was the point of my follow-up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *