This moment in history, we stand on the edge of a decision. A very dangerous, but promising choice. A choice, I believe, we have had to make periodically throughout human history. Each choice was unique to the period it was made, but the philosophy always the same. Slavery or Freedom, Control or Free Will, Violence or Peace. The only constant is the stakes get higher and higher each time we, as humans, collectively make this decision. Choosing slavery, control and violence results in the darkest blots on the human story. Choosing freedom, free will and peace has spawned renaissances and revolutions.
Why don't you take the chains all the way off?
Choosing slavery, control and violence has been the hidden reasons for such horrible moments in history as the fall of the Roman Empire and the dark ages that followed. The constant wars that followed destroyed Epang Palace, Library of Alexandria and the Library of Ctesiphon, just to name a few. The philosophy that the “mob” were slaves to be controlled and violence is the only way to control them was the accepted reality in those times.
It wasn’t always like that though. Believe it or not “Human rights” is not a modern idea and, as a matter of fact, it has been around pretty much since the dawn of the Civilized world. In 539 B.C., the armies of Cyrus the Great, the first king of ancient Persia, conquered the city of Babylon. But it was his next actions that might shock you. He freed the slaves, declared that all people had the right to choose their own religion, and established racial equality. These and other decrees were recorded on a baked-clay cylinder in the Akkadian language with cuneiform script.
Freedom set in stone. Get it?
From Babylon, the idea of human rights spread quickly to India, Greece and eventually Rome. There the concept of “natural law” arose, in observation of the fact that people tended to follow certain unwritten laws in the course of life, and Roman law was based on rational ideas derived from the nature of things.
Documents asserting individual rights, such as the Magna Carta (1215) a document that contained a large section that is now called clause 61 (the original document was not actually divided into clauses). This section established a committee of 25 barons who could at any time meet and overrule the will of the King if he defied the provisions of the Charter. This was based on a medieval legal practice known as distraint, but it was the first time it had been applied to a monarch, the Petition of Right (1628) is a major English constitutional document that sets out specific liberties of the subject that the king is prohibited from infringing, the US Constitution (1787) is the first to give “We, the people” power over the government, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789)defined the individual and collective rights of all the estates of the realm as universal. Influenced by the doctrine of “natural right”, the rights of man are held to be universal: valid at all times and in every place, pertaining to human nature itself, and the US Bill of Rights (1791)is limitations that serve to protect the natural rights of liberty and property, are the written precursors to many of today’s human rights documents.
What do we see every time we allow our free will to be taken away? Those in power destroy knowledge, technology, philosophies and ideas. They replace the life, movement and growth of the people with death, recession and placidity. They destroy human achievements, schools of knowledge with the promise of peace and security. Rarely, do they ever follow through.
I love the smell tyranny in the morning.
What do we see every time we take it back? We see a growth of human understanding and principles of liberty and freedom. These moments surpass the expectations of our ancestors and on average double the information we had available before these moments. We see these generations build and think up new philosophies, technology, arts and unite us in an acceptance of our individuality. They welcomed controversy and debate. I can assume with very little doubt, that the people who wrote the great human rights papers of the past, didn’t agreed on everything or were even from the same faiths, classes, or sometimes nationalities.
Why do I believe this present time, this old choice, this defining moment of the Human story is more important than all the others. Remember when I said the stakes get higher? What did we lose with the Dark Age? We lost Philosophies, Democratic government and some basic technologies to Warlords and scavengers. What about after the Renaissance? Philosophies, Astronomy, Physics, Technology, Arts and the infancy of the Scientific method to the will of the Roman Catholic Church. After the Age of Exploration? Until the colonies broke from Britain we were still a world ran by Monarchies and Empires.
Now here we stand, at the beginning of the Age of Information. We have Transportation that can travel the world in days, Cures for diseases that decimated our populations in the past, An “all knowing” super computer in our pockets, We can communicate with other Human beings in real time any where in the world. Our athletes run, swim and jump faster than ever before. We give(privately, not through taxation) an average of 100 Billion dollars a year, just nationally, to various charities and foundations. We have philosophies like individual sovereignty, free markets, non-aggression and voluntarism slowly forming the conversation in politics across the globe. Unfortunately, one of the possible outcomes of this choice we have presented to us is the loss of all these things.
Can you imagine going back to this? My God, the humanity.
See, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. While the people were building ideas, those who believe the people are to be ruled have been building as well. USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, US Customs and Border Protection and Department of Homeland Security Policy Change, Military Commissions Act of 2006, Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Rasul v. Bush ,Boumediene v. Bush, Torture, The FISA Amendments Act of 2008, Attorney General Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations, 2008 FBI Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, 2008 USA PATRIOT Act, Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder and the NDAA. These have all took away a part of your freedom. Not to mention, militarization of the police, TSA, Federalization of State Law, Global policing of the world and the myriad of unconstitutional laws and violations of natural rights passed everyday.
Here in lies the choice. Believe it or not, you are already on a side. You either support Free Will and Peace or you support Control and Violence. You can’t be sitting on the fence on this one. You either support freedom, across the board, for everyone. No exceptions. As long it doesn’t harm or steal from another Human being, you should be in support of it being “legal”. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to agree with it. I’m sure there is plenty in your life that would seem deplorable to others, but it doesn't give them the right to take it away from you.
You can’t ask for Religious Freedom then restrict where it can be practiced and by who. You can’t ask for equality then pass laws giving certain groups “privileges” or “restrictions”. You can’t ask for a political group to be accountable and not hold your own accountable. You can’t help someone in need because they deserve it, but because they truly need it. You can’t ask to have the right to your opinion and try to restrict others. You can not point out the faults of others before examining your own. War is not peace. Freedom is not slavery. Ignorance is not strength. You must choose.
Those eyes though!
I have faith that we’ll make the right decision. We have before. Freedom always wins. Knowledge triumphs ignorance. Kindness trumps hatred. My only fear is that history shows us, we usually don’t act until the worst case scenario happens. My prayer is that we can push through this choice without much conflict.
I am writing this as a plea to Americans to become the “Light on the Hill” again. Let’s be the example and teach the world to be free. Let’s not bicker and divide ourselves over petty differences. Let’s not force our will, but become the best option and the world will see that Freedom, Free Will and Peace is a far greater thing than anything else we could hope to achieve. It means more than your creature comforts. It means having purpose beyond that of those who want to control you and decide what is best for you. Let’s end this wonderful Age we were raised in peacefully and look to the dawn of the new one.