Thursday, April 7, 2011

Freedom for All is the Product of Self-Control

In the article in Issue 17 titled, “The Decision is Always Yours – Freedom as Self-Control,” Carl Watner discusses various aspects of self-control.

One point made in this article is that the government can’t force you to do anything; you are ultimately the only one who can control yourself.

This can be hard to understand at first. Many people hear this and think, “That’s not right! The government (or anyone else who uses violence or threats of violence) is forcing me to do x. I don’t want to do x, they are forcing me.”

But this is not true. You always have choices. It’s just that those who threaten violence against you can limit your choices. Severely. But only you can act on those choices and you make your choice by weighing the consequences. Many of us don’t want to go to jail or get killed of course and we accept another choice.

So in the end, if you do what the people with guns tell you to do you are still the one acting, the one making the choice, and yes, the one voluntarily consenting.

Carl discusses many implications to this insight but for me, this is important because of the problems that come when limiting choices. Limiting choices prevents people from developing the ability to make decisions and take responsibility for their actions.

And as mentioned in the article, limiting choices also limits the power of human creative energy. Energy that is needed to move society forward, to solve problems in a respectful and peaceful manner.

Another aspect of realizing you have control over your actions is that you begin to look inward and evaluate why you made certain choices and whether those choices added value to your life or not. You end up creating your own methods of self-government, self-discipline, and self-evaluation.

You focus on yourself rather than on others because it’s all about self-control, not ‘others-control.’ This is why self-control can lead to freedom for everyone.

Here is a nice ends-means comment at the end of this piece that I’ll close with here:
“…It is immoral in itself for the moral person to impose morality upon others. The moral person does not resort to force, does not compel others to accept his or her morality. The means would be inconsistent with the ends of morality. If the moral person gives due consideration to the means (the inculcation of character and self-control), the end (a group of people who are moral and respect property rights) will take care of itself. Thus another proof of "freedom is self-control." "One does not have to labor to compel others to accept freedom. One has, rather, to control himself, so that he does not interfere with the freedom of others. Freedom for all is the product of self-control. This means that we will be free when we stop preventing the freedom of others." (Bob LeFevre, G.7., September 13, 1959.)”


Anthony said...

Nice! "A Way To Be Free" by Robert LeFevre is a favorite essay of mine:

Bill Starr said...

Very good post. If you could put a Facebook "Like" or "Recommend" button in your post (like the articles on, I would click it. I'll be tweeting some links instead.

Debbie H. said...

Hey Bill, there is a facebook like button. You should see a row of icons at the bottom of the post and facebook is one of those icons.