Tuesday, November 18, 2003

On a slightly more serious note than the prior two entries, I've been contemplating security vs. liberty lately. A lot of words have been deployed in attempts to illuminate the lay of this conceptual land, with a large share of them issuing from such luminaries as James Madison and Ben Franklin, whose offerings I certainly commend to you. What occurs to me is that all humans desire both liberty and security; what differentiates us from one another is perhaps in where we look for security, and that may in turn affect our notions of liberty -- and certainly affects our realizations of it. What the Founding Fathers decried -- surrendering liberty for security -- was political, but there are other kinds of liberty and security. They (rightly) detested the idea of giving up liberty for political security, but what about, for example, giving up the liberty of being single for the security of one's own family? Is that a foolish exchange? A libertine might say yes, but I don't think so (and I think they would lose that argument if they tried to push the point). So I think there's a bit more to the subject than such pearls as Franklin's "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Franklin was not wrong, the statement just isn't all-encompassing. I suspect he didn't mean it to be, but I haven't read the context. (Actually, come to think of it, Franklin was a bit of a libertine himself, wasn't he?)

That's about as far as my ponderings have gotten yet. I usually wouldn't make an entry on such a worthy subject without a fuller treatment of it, but I've been receiving complaints lately from an impatient reader (hi Mom). :-) Maybe you have something to say about this. Email me.


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