Freedom. That’s what writing is to me. I love the liberty of literature. I think that is why I particularly love to write fiction. I don’t enjoy reality much, so why write about it? Reality is boring, mundane, something we face every day. We know enough about it. In fiction, I have the freedom to do just about anything I like. I can create any host of worlds and characters, and I can have these plots play out precisely as I want them to. And, if I’m lucky, I can entertain someone in the process. That’s what I enjoy most about the freedom I feel when writing.
As most people in the world today, the reality of recent events has moved me, a reality that seems fictitious, at least to me. My latest book, The Forgotten Federation, focuses on the rise of a global tyrant who uses alien forces to rid the Earth of superheroes so that she may assume control of the government.
Coincidentally, I expect to see a UFO any day now.
However, to remain logical, one must remain objective. Therefore, I do my best to maintain a partial temperament in the face of change. To be more…Vulcan…if you will. And that logical aspect of me recently began to question what freedom really means and if its meaning will remain the same in the face of evolution. I’ve heard that freedom is being you without having to ask for permission. Janis Joplin sang that freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. Throughout history, various freedoms have come into being because of change. Change, more than most things, is quite certain. Death, after all, is change, and death is at the end of life’s inescapable path. It’s all part of the natural progression, the erosion of time. So let’s take a closer look at evolution and its impact on freedom.
The gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.
Synonyms: development, advancement, growth, rise, progress, expansion, unfolding
Antonyms: regress, regression, retrogression, reversion
Evolution. The definition is simple enough. Evolution literally is change. It is a process that is natural, gradual, and inevitable. If we look at the past two thousand-some-odd years, evolution is clear. Historically, the changes we have underwent as a society are obvious in our present judgement, our behavior, our social edifice, and our ideologies. That fact is indisputable. If we think about it, evolution is much like wind, or rain, an unstoppable force of nature. Yet, some of us always resist it, myself included. In general, no one really likes change. It’s like the drunk uncle that shows up at Thanksgiving. We don’t enjoy him, but we will tolerate him, and we eventually get used to him being there.
A trend or shift toward a lower or less perfect state.
Synonyms: retrogression, reversion
Antonyms: advancement, development, evolution, progression
Regression. Regression is moving backward. Sometimes regression is a good thing. You’ve made an enhancement to a module and you want to validate that this enhancement has not broken your overall structure, so you “regress” the testing to make sure everything has remained operational. However, the larger meaning of regression is reversion, pushing against previous steps forward. Remember that drunk uncle at the dinner table? Well, now he won’t leave, and he’s passed out on the couch slobbering all over your new throw pillows. Not pretty.
We can take these two concepts—regression and evolution—and apply them to a more social philosophy.
Belief in the value of established and traditional practices in politics and society. Dislike of change or new ideas in a particular area.
Synonyms: conservativeness, die-hardism, reactionaryism, traditionalism, ultraconservatism
Antonyms: progressive, liberal, liberalist
Before we continue, I think it’s important that we set aside the larger picture of politics. As a matter of fact, remove politics from the equation altogether. Today, we make way too many assumptions by linking liberalism with Democrats and conservatism with Republicans. Though this may be true in a common sense, it is not the rule. There are many Democrats with conservative views and Republicans who lean to the liberal side of the spectrum.
Rather, let’s just look at the bare ideologies.
Conservatism is a belief in the unchanged, the traditional, as it always was. There are positives to this, of course—the road that is always traveled to get home, the apple pie that always tastes like it should, the song that remains the same. Now, let’s turn to good old drunk uncle. He always comes over on Thanksgiving, and he always get sloshed and passes out in front of the kids with his hand down his pants. As a matter of fact, Thanksgiving may not be the same without his buffoonery.
However, just to shake it up, what would happen if we sent our alcoholic uncle to Alcoholics Anonymous?
Belief in the value of social and political change in order to achieve progress.
Synonyms: left, leftism, left wing
Antonyms: conservatism, illiberalism, immobilism, right
Liberalism is the belief that change is coming, that change is good, necessary for the continued growth that occurs during evolutionary elements far beyond our control. Let’s say that after walking up those twelve steps, drunk uncle shows up at our next get-together with a side dish instead of a fifth of vodka. Furthermore, let’s say that he helps Grandma to the car instead of urinating on your rug. Let’s say he plays a board game with the kids instead of telling them what it’s like to projectile vomit from a moving police cruiser. I, for one, would think this would be a positive turn of events.
But, who knows? Maybe you like a pissy carpet.
There are those who believe that some folks who truly practice conservatism dislike those who are not like themselves, or who they deem to be non-traditional. If you take a moment to look at the social foundation around us, I think we can locate examples of this. Even looking at the select antonyms of the word “conservatism” you see it is polar-opposite to terms like broad-mindedness, open-mindedness, and progressivism. But that is not to say some of those who profess to be liberal are all-inclusive of those different from themselves (e.g. conservatives). As a matter of fact, some of those whom are liberal are much the same, in the fact they dislike those who are not also liberal. I think if we take a moment to look at the social foundation around us, we can certainly locate examples of this, too.
And I believe it boils down to the fact that as an intellectual species, we are against those who are not like-minded.
That statement can apply to just about any social aspect. Some who love rap music can’t tolerate those who find it lacking. Some who consider themselves well-educated think those without degrees are beneath them. Some who have money can’t comprehend why the “lazy” homeless man just won’t get a job. And the song goes on…
However, remember evolution is a force of nature; it’s all around us. It’s happening right now while you are sitting here reading this on that Samsung Galaxy S7 you had to take because that damn Note 7 just wouldn’t stop catching fire. Just like water slowly polishes down the rugged stone, evolution wears down the stony surface of tradition. During the time of the Black Death, doctors believed that treatments should equal the symptom—“like cures like.” Therefore, it was tradition (and I assure you this is true) to have people keep flatulence in containers…or “farts in a jar.” Each time the pestilence appeared in someone’s neighborhood, to keep themselves from contracting the disease they were to open the jars and take a big whiff.
Well…they dropped dead anyway. But, still…
Stuttering used to be “cured” by cutting off half a person’s tongue. And let’s not forget the “Touch Test” that was used to validate if a woman was a witch or not during the Salem Witch trials. If someone was having a “fit” and stopped when a certain woman touched them, townsfolk considered that woman to be a witch whom was later given any number of gruesome death sentences. Yet, this was simply the way things were in days past. We didn’t know any better. These things around us, these ideologies, this resistance to change, these things will fade away.
Just like farts in a jar.
They fade away because we simply evolve to know better, and we will continue to get better, because there is no other way. Don’t get me wrong; it is evident that there are extremes to every side. Your freedom to do just as you choose ends specifically where my freedom begins—and likewise. At least today, abortion can be legal, and it is your right not to undergo one. Gay marriage can be law, and it is your right not to marry someone of the same gender. Yes, all of these things, these freedoms, stop just at the point where your freedom is impaired.
Ergo, are these things our business?
If we aren’t contemplating abortion, should we concern ourselves about those who do? If a woman is, indeed, condemned to Hell because of their choice to end a pregnancy, if that is what she chooses, should we concern ourselves with her choice? Or should we concern ourselves with our own bodies and souls? I don’t like hunting. I don’t like the thought of killing something for sport (and let’s face it—it’s a little gross). Yet, I wouldn’t deprive my big brother of hunting rabbit. That’s his business. I simply don’t choose to shoot Thumper myself.
I don’t know. Could the answer really be a simple as live and let live? Maybe. As for me, I will continue to live by that code, I suppose. If I don’t believe in it, I simply won’t partake in it, and is it my right to remove that choice from someone else? I don’t think so. I choose not to believe that. And presently, at this very moment, that choice is my right.
You don’t have to agree with it, because that is your right. At least today…
That’s the reality inside the fiction, the liberty of literature.