Seeing Independence through Gardiner

Posted: August 16, 2006 in Articles

We are more to take rather than to give. I hear at
least one in his message on Independence Day, shouts that we are not free yet or the we are not given freedom in full meaning. I read Gardiner’s essay “Rule of the Road” a few years back, which left me a quesion and repetedly, a reverse thought on consuming than delivering freedom. “A stout old lady was walking with her basket down the middle of a street in Petrograd to the great confusion of the traffic and with no small peril to herself. It was pointed out to her that the pavement was the place for pedestrians, but she replied: ‘I’m going to walk where I like. We’ve got liberty now.’ It did not occur to the dear old lady that if liberty entitled the pedestrian to walk down the middle of the road, then the end of such liberty would be universal chaos. Everybody would be getting in everybody else’s way and nobody would get anywhere. Individual liberty would have become social anarchy”.

I would be more in concern when things turn right against me, like late in the night when I party with my friends, it does not make a concern how would be the people sleepless hearing the blast from the music system in full volume or I play my violin as beginner, with all the crap notations. There is a danger of the world getting liberty-drunk in these days. On a hurry drive to office, when I see the policeman steps into the middle of the road and puts out his hand, he stands as a symbol of tyranny to me. How dare this fellow interfere with my free use of the public highway? I forget that that in order that the liberties of all may be preserved, the liberties of everybody must be curtailed. But I become reasonable only if I comment upon my counterpart zig zag through a heavy traffic, and I boast on the rule of the road. Then I reflect that if the policeman did not interfere with you, he would interfere with no one, and the result would be that the signal junction would be a maelstrom that I would never cross at all. I have submitted to a curtailment of private liberty in order that I may enjoy a social order which makes my liberty a reality.

Liberty is not a personal affair only, but a social contract. It is an accommodation of interests. Of course, I may be as free as I like. We have a whole kingdom in which we rule alone, can do what we choose, be wise or ridiculous, harsh or easy, conventional or odd. But directly we step out of that kingdom, our personal liberty of action becomes qualified by other people’s liberty. There are a lot of people in the world, and I have to accommodate my liberty to their liberties. Like while, listening to hard metal late in the night, I must accomodate my neighbours liberty to sleep with no disturbance. A reasonable consideration for the rights or feelings of others is the foundation of social conduct.

  1. dinsan says:

    Well let me put it this way… something which made me think a lot
    “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” George Bernard Shaw

    And that says everything I believe about freedom and liberty

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