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Neither free nor brave

People often get upset at me when I criticize our military.  They say that I need to support our troops and respect what these brave men and women are doing.  So, the first thing I want to say is that my beef isn't with the men and women in the military.  It would be almost as silly for me to blame the individual members of the military as it would be for me to blame the individual molecules in my TV if the TV itself didn't function properly.  That the majority of people in the military are brave is something I shall not question.  That they are doing what they feel is best for themselves and for the country I also do not question.  I criticize only the military itself.  Any fault in the military can be blamed on the leaders--the generals at the head of the military, and the elected officials (primarily the POTUS) who control the military.  These are the people that I blame.

Now, my issue with this poster.  We are not a free country.  Yes, we do enjoy many liberties, and that should not be overlooked.  When complaining about the tyranny that exists, I think it is also important to emphasize the positive.  As for me personally, I can pretty much do anything that I want to do.  The only thing I really want to try that's illegal is smoke marijuana, but that's legal in two states now, so there's hope that one day I'll be able to try it.  But aside from that, there aren't too many things that I want to do that are currently illegal.  Yes, it would be nice to go 100 MPH on the freeway, especially when I'm driving through Nebraska and I'm the only one on the road for several miles in either direction.  But I don't mind laws such as speed limits which attempt to make the roads safer.  I don't mind following laws that govern travel on public roads.

But the fact that I don't mind it doesn't mean that it's not law.  Our country is far from free.  If I wanted to sell raw milk, I wouldn't be able to.  It's illegal.  Even if the person I'm selling it to knows that it's raw milk and wants raw milk.  After some date (I don't remember when precisely), I won't be able to sell (or buy) incandescent light bulbs.  I don't want to anyway, because I like LED bulbs much better, but that's not the point.  The point is that we have so many rules and regulations.  We have so many laws governing how we should live.  We are far from free.  Anyone who goes back to the colonial times and examines the reasons the colonists gave for effecting a separation from the British Crown will see that the tyranny we currently have is far worse than the tyranny of King George III was at the time.  We pay higher taxes than the colonists did. We effectively don't have representation in our own government because lobbyists buy up all of the votes of the congresspersons.  We have a prison where we send anyone who is labeled as a "terrorist" and do all sorts of inhumane things to them there.  Our own prison system is almost as tyrannical, albeit slightly more humane.  However, it results in turning harmless potheads into hardened criminals.

We aren't a free country.  You want to start your own business?  Look up all the red tape you have to go through.  There are so many regulations.  There are so many papers you need to file.  You have to register your company as an LLC, a Corp, and Inc, or some other bizarre acronym.  There are special laws that govern each type of company.  If you make enough money, you'll be paying one third of it to the government, unless you do as many millionaires and billionaires and find all of the tax loopholes to shelter your money and protect it.

You can't walk out of a bar with an open container of alcohol.  You can't drive with an open container of alcohol--even if you're not drunk and haven't been drinking and aren't drinking the alcohol that's open.  Merely having it in the car is illegal.  You can't drink before the age of 21.  I just heard about a law in Washington (state) that says that stores cannot give away bags without charging for them.  Plastic bags are banned altogether and paper bags must be sold for 10 cents.  This is not freedom.  This is tyranny.  The government has too many regulations and has too much say in how we live our day-to-day lives.  It is micromanaging us.  We aren't free.  We might have the illusion of freedom.  Most people are probably like me and don't feel an encroachment on their personal freedom.  But it's there.  The laws we have certainly contradict any claim that we are a free country, or that we are a free people.

The second problem I have with this claim is that it implies that our military--rather, the brave people in the military--fight to protect our freedoms.  This is not true.  In fact, the opposite is true.  The military fight to destroy the freedoms of people in other countries.  We kill innocent people in the Middle East all the time.  We do it with military personnel and with drones.  We wage war on a people that have never offended us and turn their countries into a devastated wasteland.  Then we imprison their people in our off-shore prison so we can torture them and treat them less than human.

But none of this fighting benefits any one of us in a way so as to protect, defend, or grant us freedom from any tyranny at hand.  In fact, the military itself is part of the tyranny that we need to cast off.  When we talk of the Revolutionary War, how do we think of the military at the time?  The "Red Coats" were the very symbol of the Crown.  They were the embodiment of the tyranny from the government.  And that's exactly what our military is now.  You may say that you don't feel the tyranny of our military--that they've never broken into your home and taken away your rights.  But I think the same can be said of British citizens living in England at the time of the Revolution.  They didn't feel threatened by their military.  In fact, they may have felt just the same way about the Colonists as many Americans currently feel about Middle Easterners--that they are a threat to peace and must be dealt with, and that the military is justified in fighting them.

What we need is truly brave people.  People who will stand up against tyranny wherever they see it.  Yes, the people serving in the military may very well be brave.  But we need citizens who are brave.  We need people who will stand up for their own rights.  We need people who will cast off the oppression of the government reaching its hand too far into our lives.  We need to promote a world where we all live freely.

What is the definition of freedom?  How about this: a world where no one person (or group of people) imposes eir will on any other person.  We are free when we do not exert coercion or force upon another and do not feel the exertion of force upon ourselves.  I can control only myself, and I am justified in controlling only myself.  If I try to control you, I have made myself a tyrant.  I may reason with you.  I may present logical arguments, including facts and data, to you.  I may attempt to persuade you.  But I am not justified in using any means of force to control you.  And this is how I live my life, for the most part.  I don't hold a gun to my students to coerce them to do their homework.  I don't steal my groceries from the store.  I don't (purposely) smash my car into the crazy driver that cut me off.  My interactions with other people are peaceful interactions.  I let them make their own choices and they let me make my own choices.  What if we all behaved like this?  Think how nice the world would be if everyone behaved that way.

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