Monday, November 14, 2011

Free will

I got to thinking about this, after hearing about some of the legislation that's being considered in various California cities: banning pet stores, to protect against "puppy mills" and large numbers of unwanted dogs and cats; banning the sale of fur clothing; the various 'dietary' measures (like banning trans fats).

And something struck me: If, like me, you believe in God, you also most likely believe that God gave us free will to make choices. We have a choice whether to love God or not, a choice whether to do right or do wrong.

And the government in some municipalities is trying to abridge that free will by legislating against particular behaviors they dislike.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not going total-libertarian on this: I support laws against (among other things) murder, rape, child abuse, theft, assault, and a host of other things that directly harm another human. (I'm even OK with bans on smoking in government buildings. I tend to think bar/restaurant owners should be able to make the choice - just as their patrons should be able to make the choice whether to eat there or not - but if you're stuck in line at the DMV and you have asthma, it's not cool to be stuck behind a guy puffing on a stogie).

But it seems to me so many government employees want to justify their salaries (I assume) by micromanaging the lives of their constituents.

You know what? I probably wouldn't wear fur. While I don't have a problem with hunting (Most of the hunters I know are very concerned with getting humane quick kills), I have questions about raising animals in cages solely for their pelts. But that's me, that's my personal decision, and I would never wag a finger at a woman in a fur coat and tell her she was wrong. Most decisions carry a moral complexity that the nanny-staters like to ignore. For example: fur (and wool) is a renewable resource; synthetic fabrics are not. Nor will they biodegrade. (And cotton, the way it's traditionally grown, is hell on the environment.)

(And yes, I buy "cage free" eggs, though that's partly because I think they taste better, and yes, I can tell a difference. But they ARE more expensive and I realize that's a choice I can make because of my particular circumstances, and not everyone can choose that).

The thing that gets me is, with any of those legislatures who are wanting to ban salt or toy guns for children or whatever - if someone came forward with a proposal against extramarital sex, or requiring a counseling period before marriage, the legislators would throw up their hands and go, "You can't legislate morality! You can't tell people what to do with their lives!"

Um, yeah.

(Actually, I'm somewhat in favor of the idea of a counseling period/waiting period before marriage; I have seen too many people rush into it who take it very lightly. It's a serious thing. It SHOULD be a serious thing. It's a vow to another person, and, if you are at all religious, your God as well.)

But I don't know. If it was good enough for us for thousands of years to make our own moral decisions about what to eat, what to wear, how to spend our money, etc....why isn't it good enough any more?

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