Friday, February 19, 2016

Life, Liberty, and the Freedom of Diversity

"In a free society, what one encounters in the public square will be challenging, not comforting."
- zharth

I respect your right to hold an opinion, to choose your own beliefs, and to lead a life according to your own personal set of guiding principles. It might sound clich├ęd, but I will defend that right to the death, even if I happen to disagree with you, because it's no different than my freedom to hold an opinion, choose my own beliefs, and lead a life according to my own guiding principles.

But that doesn't mean I will always respect what your opinions, beliefs, and guiding principles are. Sometimes those things end up infringing on the rights of others. Diversity is a celebration of differences. It does not mean everyone coming together and compromising on a single lifestyle that offends the statistically smallest sample of the population. Diversity means growing a backbone, and learning to look the other way in the face of other people making choices about their own lives that you don't agree with.

Democracy relies on people getting along (or, barring that, a competent justice system), but this can only come as the result of a mature understanding of the difference between harm and offense, and the duty one has to take responsibility for one's own feelings, rather than impose their beliefs and views on others. Forcing somebody to change their lifestyle because you don't like it is the antithesis of freedom and diversity.

And if you disagree with me, I will respect your right to do so. But don't expect me to respect the angle of your viewpoint. Because I sure as hell am not going to change the way I live my life just to satisfy the arrogant illusion that your principles are better than mine, or anyone else's. Remember what I said about defending to the death? Well that goes for my viewpoints, as well.

--------------------------

Seriously, I don't get this. If a woman wants to wear pants and work in construction, we support her freedom to do so. If a man wants to walk hand in hand through the park with his boyfriend, we support his freedom to do so. But if I want to go out and work in my garden in the nude, I'm a public menace? Because the sight of my naked body might offend someone's delicate sensibilities? Because people have the "right" not to be exposed to other people's nude bodies? What the hell kind of world are we living in?

I'm not asking you to join me. I'm not even asking you to like it. I'm just asking you to extend the same courtesy I've extended you - the freedom to wear clothes if that makes you more comfortable. And "forcing" you to look at my naked body (it's not like I'm tying you down and holding your eyes open) might not feel like a courtesy (on the other hand, how about all those times that you take for granted when I've covered up just to satisfy your beliefs?), but that's only because you have the privilege of agreeing with the majority view.

In a hypothetical nudist world - provided you feel the same way you do now, and don't become a nudist just because it's common - don't you think you would advocate for the right to dress before leaving the privacy of your house, if being publicly clothed were not allowed? Yeah, that's what I thought. So, do you support freedom and diversity, or do you just support going along with whatever the majority view happens to be? I know a lot of people whose beliefs align with the latter - and, again, you have the freedom to think that way. But you only have that freedom because other people disagree with you, and are willing to defend that right to disagree. Otherwise, in some way or another - be it hairstyle, dress, language, lifestyle, relationship, hobbies, choice of food or drink, etc. - you would be forced to live according to somebody else's mandate.

And if that thought doesn't bother you, you are still within your rights. But know that you are no supporter of freedom. And it's disingenuous of you to claim your view represents freedom, in the hopes of luring in more blind followers of your creed - people like you who like the sound of freedom, because it's more socially acceptable, but really believe in authoritarianism. Of course, authoritarianism is nice if you're the one in authority. But the whole point of democracy is fairness. We can't all be in authority. That no one is fully in authority in a democracy is just the price we pay in order to avoid being bossed around by somebody else. So quit bossing me around. This is a democracy we're living in here.


2 comments:

  1. That was probably the most brilliant and inpirational thing i've ever seen on the internets. I can't add anything of value as you covered it so well.

    I will say that I have been following your writings for a couple years now, and while I do not comment often, I appreciate your insights on nudism. Please continue to share your thoughts on what I consider an important issue.

    Thanks again.
    Steve Werk

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for commenting, Steve. This one really came from the heart. I learned long ago that my way of dissecting issues often leaves little room for followup commentary (except, perhaps, by those who wholeheartedly disagree), but I do absolutely appreciate knowing that there are others out there (even if only a few) who agree with me, and believe that my little platform for self-expression here on the vast, world wide web is worth the server space it's stored on.

    So, thanks for letting me know you're out there. :-)

    ReplyDelete