Liberty & Oppression
I am a 60% mentally disabled combat veteran and I have an opinion.
I share this not to make an appeal to authority, but rather to demonstrate that I have a depth of knowledge and experience that informs my opinion, which I dare to say is an expert opinion. I literally fought for liberty, and I personally lost much in that fight while my family, community, and those close to me have continued to pay the cost of what I lost. That is to say, me and mine bought and paid for my opinion, and it is an expensive opinion.
Men go to war for various reasons and causes. Some volunteer to serve in the military thinking it will be a good experience and to get some tuition assistance, they never actually thought they would see combat. Others volunteer because they seek glory. Many volunteer out of a desire to protect and defend an idea or concept, such as liberty. Others are forced to war. The US drafted 25% of the men who fought in Vietnam and 66% of those who fought in World War II.
It is easy to see why someone who was forced to go fight for something might have a different opinion on what they fought for than someone who volunteered to go fight for something. It is also easy to see how someone who never went and fought would have a different opinion than those who did go and fight. I volunteered to protect and defend the idea of liberty that the past three generations of men, on both sides of my family, had volunteered to protect and defend.
I volunteered twice. The first time, I signed a check with my life when I joined the US Navy in August of 1990. You might recall that the Gulf War began on August 2, 1990, so I had no confusion about what I was volunteering for. The second time, I volunteered to be deployed in the war zone, at the tip of the spear. The detailer gave me five options to choose from, and only one of those options would take me into the combat zone, I chose that one.
I did this in order to defend and extend this concept of liberty that allows me and mine to hold beliefs and take actions that would be contrary to other citizens beliefs and actions. Many, not all, of those I stood on the front lines with had the same motivation. Let’s be clear, there were plenty that were not there to defend liberty.
They were there for other reasons of their own and they thought little of liberty. The world is full of people who only care for their own liberty and are willing to stomp on the liberty of others. The war I served in had plenty of those types of people as well. They fought, they died, they paid a price, but they did not do it for liberty.
I fought for the right to personally hold the belief that government-sponsored welfare is a hideous thing, that the oppressive act of racism (both casual and systematic) ought to be annihilated, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only salvation, that men are created to enjoy God by glorifying Him forever, and that marriage is a holy ordinance between one man and one woman. I fought for the right to salute the flag of my choice, to stand for the national anthem of my choice, to live where I choose, to marry whom I choose, to attend the church of my own choosing, and to raise my children according to my own beliefs and actions.
My father had taken great pains to educate me on why the men in our family would go to war. Not only do we fight for our right to hold beliefs and take actions counter to others, but we also fight for the right for others to hold beliefs and take actions counter to ours! This is the inherent nature of liberty, the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by others on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.
It is important to me that you comprehend that. I paid a high price to ensure that you have the liberty to disagree with me … so that I have the liberty to disagree with you. When we do not defend and strive for this balance, we are pursuing oppressive restrictions. I realize that because you are convinced that your beliefs and actions are good, you are also convinced that they are not oppressive. Because they do not oppress you.
Perhaps an example is in order. Let us say that you believe the flag (i.e. the US Flag) of your choice should be honored and respected by saluting it at certain times and in certain places. Liberty states that you are allowed to choose that. But when society or government requires you to honor and respect a flag (i.e. the Nazi Flag) that you do not choose at certain times and places, that becomes an oppressive restriction and liberty dies.
To further beat, oppress, and restrict a dead horse, I will point out that to make the statement, “I wish we were all in agreement on how and why we honor and respect the flag of my choice.” Is a good way to express the thought in liberty. However, the moment one makes the statement, “Everyone ought to agree with me on how and why we honor and respect the flag of my choice.” That one has moved from coexisting with others in liberty to attempting to oppress and restrict others that are in disagreement.
Social media is full of outrage over how some individual athletes are choosing to exercise their liberty. On the one hand, some folks are offended by the athlete’s choice. On the other hand, some folks are offended by the previous folks who are offended by the athletes choice. In all cases, there are a bunch of people trying to tell a bunch of other people how they should behave and what they should believe.
What really gets my goat is the people that invoke my good name, and it is only those that are offended by the athletes choice that seems to invoke it, although that may just be the echo of my chosen chamber. Their argument is that somehow, by exercising their liberty, these athletes dismiss, minimize, invalidate, or otherwise ignore my personal sacrifice for their liberty to do so.
The truth of the matter is that the best way for anyone, these athletes included, to accept, maximise, validate, and otherwise approve of my personal sacrifice is for them to exercise their liberty to do so! The irony is that folks invoke my good name and service to defend liberty so that they might oppress and restrict those that disagree with them!
“If they knew the price that was paid for them to exercise their liberty, they would stand for the flag!” is the logical equivalent to “If they knew the price that was paid for them to exercise their liberty, they would not exercise their liberty.”
“If they sit, they should be forced to enlist, to see why WE stand!” is the logical equivalent to “If they exercise their liberty to sit, we should draft them and send them to war to defend the very liberty that we do not want them to exercise!”
Each of these statements argues for oppression … not for liberty. We sacrificed for liberty. Claiming that our sacrifice, or the sacrifice of others who also fought for liberty, ought to restrict the liberty of those you disagree with dismisses, minimizes, invalidates, and otherwise ignores our personal sacrifice for that liberty.
I fought for your liberty to believe and act as you will, within the confines of liberty that allow others to believe and act as they will.
If you do not want to go to a sports ball tournament or support sports balls because athletes do not behave according to your personal standard, I fought for your liberty to not do that. I think it is awesome for you to express your opinion of people you disagree with. Do you think they are disrespectful? That is fine. I probably agree with you.
Do you want to express your opinion to those that will listen to your reason? So do I! Do you want to nod sagely and not get involved? That is awesome. Perhaps you would like to quietly ask questions of those that support the ones you disagree with in an effort to work through the logical fallacies that they support. Me too!
You have a lot of reasonable and good options and I personally paid the prices to ensure that you have the liberty to exercise all of them. Please do that. If the sports ball athletes want to sit or do jumping jacks or play the hokey pokey while you think they should do what you want them to do … well, I fought for their liberty to do that as well.
But I did not fight for one person to exercise liberty at the cost of another’s liberty.
That ceases to be liberty, that is oppression. Oppression is the thing I fought so hard against.
Oppression is the very thing that demanded such a high cost, that I voluntarily paid, to defend liberty.
When you use my blood, sweat, and tears to justify your oppression of others, you insult me and my service in the deepest and gravest manner.
I am a 60% mentally disabled combat veteran and I have an opinion.
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