George W. Bush unwittingly correctly declared, “We know that the desire for freedom is not confined to, or owned by, any culture; it is the inborn hope of our humanity.” Though this president used this statement to insist that his foolish decision to invade Iraq wasn’t, the idea does match closely with the Bible, just from a different angle:
“The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord, and against His
‘Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us” (Psalm 2:2-3).
Mankind does indeed desire liberation, he desires liberation from his Creator.
Other than our own sinful desire to be free from God’s bondage of us, we do not tend to really like freedom. This is seen in the story of Israel. Not long after their dramatic exodus from Egypt, they cried out for deliverance back to Egypt (cf. Exod. 16:3). And after the conquest of the Promised Land and the establishment of a dramatically decentralized government, their proneness to sin led to so much instability that they soon cried out for a king “that we also may be like all the nations” (1 Sam. 8:19-20). The Book of Judges recounts how well the ancient nation of Israel handled freedom. Not that anyone else would necessarily do worse, but we don’t tend to handle liberty much better either.
So, if you throw God out and you don’t want to decide for yourself, who is left? Well, as far as things appear “under the sun”, only one’s fellow fallen human. I like to talk about liberty, but I do not feel my arguments resonate very well. For one, I’m probably just not a clear argumenter. And, for two, my focus tends to be on reasoning like this, “why do we want the government to decide for us what we can decide for ourselves?” My thought, here, is that people don’t like being bossed around so, they don’t want someone else telling them what to do. I think this is true as far as it goes. The problem is, though, while people don’t like being bossed, they do like being boss. And people can be so freaking bossy.
Left to his own devices, freedom from God is man’s primary disposition. Number two, is bossiness. Well, I might be slightly overstating that, but will continue to do so for the purposes of this essay. The oldest surviving religion, besides the true one, is Hinduism. One of the things most associated with Hinduism is its caste system:
“Seeking its own answer to this conundrum, a well-known Vedic hymn (Rigveda 10.90) describes how, at the beginning of time, the primordial person Purusha underwent a process of sacrifice that produced a four-part cosmos and its human counterpart, a four-part social order comprising Brahmans (priests), Kshatriyas (warriors and nobles), Vaishyas (commoners), and Shudras (servants).”
One of the things I have noticed in my lifetime is that the more educated one is the more likely they are to view themselves as a cut above the rest. So, while the United States has a generally merit-based system, the tendency of the people, as they obtain more societal merit, is to begin to view themselves as innately superior to those with less societal merit. So, sure, no one likes being told what to do, but what if you know better than others? In that case, shouldn’t you have a right to tell others what to do? Though Hinduism developed over many years, I would suspect it originated with the Brahmans trying to maintain the status quo, not the Shudras; the Shudras needed taking care of.
This caste mindset is not unique to Hinduism. Plato, a thousand or two years after Hinduism started, echoed a similar thought in his famed The Republic. Here he espouses “philosopher kings.” Unlike Hinduism, Plato’s system does not suggest that one is born into the position of the philosopher-king, but, once discovered, it is only these enlightened elite who are worthy to lead. The more education one has the more likely one is to view him or herself as part of this elite group. And, even if not part of the American political/ruling class, they see themselves as in cahoots with them, so reflecting the thoughts of the rulers helps solidify the individual’s belief that they are part of this group. So, in saying, “do you like being told what to do?” Of course not, but, you see, I’m educated, so I know the right decisions to make for you.
Here, I think falling back on the golden rule is appropriate. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. First, I find it almost completely IMPOSSIBLE that another person would be much better at consistently making good decisions for someone else, especially strangers. Sure, SOME of those decisions might be better, but should I give up my personal sovereignty for the sake of a crapshoot of someone else’s better decisions. What about the worse ones? Second, if you don’t like people bossing you around, on what basis have you decided that you should decide for others? Again, often this appears to be an appeal to some education or some “scientific” understanding or other? Please, everyone with a degree knows only a little tiny bit more about a tiny bit of subjects. A degree, even an advanced one, does not give one the knowledge by which to decide what is best for another, except in instances where another is relying on your particular area of expertise for guidance. Have some humility.
In conclusion, I think I have reverted to attempting to boss the bossy people. And, man, there are so many bossy people.