Autonomy VS Freedom


I’m reading a thought-provoking book called Saving Truth by Abdu Murray, a member of the RZIM apologetics team. He introduces his topic by discussing post-truth and the effects on society of this mindset.

The greatest effect, Mr. Murray says, is that people now believe in autonomy, not freedom. Thankfully, he took time to explain what he means. Autonomy comes from two Greek roots, one meaning self and the other meaning rule. Thus, autonomy means self-rule, or without external control.

The problem with autonomy, of course, is that my autonomy and your autonomy may collide. And then, as Mr. Murray points out, might makes right. The stronger of the two dictates to the weaker. In other words, autonomy is actually the gateway to tyranny, with anarchy a stop along the way.

Mr. Murray likened autonomy to what Israel experienced in the era of the Judges. Scripture records this statement: “In those days, there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (17:6).

The result was chaos and all kinds of immoral action. People abused others and reacted in violent ways. And no one was willing to take responsibility until civil war broke out.

Freedom is very different. It’s akin to liberty or the ability to stand on your own, and “implies the power to choose among alternatives rather than merely being unrestrained” (Oxford-American Dictionary). In truth, true freedom occurs when a person is guided by moral law.

I think of the example I heard years ago when I was teaching. Some experiment was done in which children were given an open field in which to play during their recess breaks. There were no walls, no fences, but the children concentrated their play near the building. Some time later, the children were provided with a fenced area in which to play, and this time they scattered to the distant parts of the designated field.

In reality the “restriction” gave the children a sense of safety that allowed them to take off their self-restraint and enjoy the area where they’d been allowed to go. Without the boundaries, however, they created self-imposed restrictions that hampered their movement.

Of course, the experiment could have taken a different direction. The children without the boundaries could have left the school grounds. They could have run into the street. They might have vandalized homes in the vicinity. They could have harassed neighbors. They might have stayed away instead of returning to school. They could have been abducted.

The point is, their autonomy didn’t have to result in self-restraint. It could just as easily have resulted in their impinging on someone else’s rights and misusing their property, even as they put themselves at risk to be harmed, accidentally or on purpose.

Freedom is something we can all enjoy. Autonomy leads only to chaos and ultimately tyranny.

Again looking to the era of the judges in Israel’s history, when society descended into chaos, the people cried for a king. They wanted someone to impose on them the rules of law that would bring order. Of course, the result was that the entire nation was then under the rule of one man who subjected them to the laws he decided to establish or follow.

As a result the southern nation was a bit of a yo-yo. When they had a king that followed God, they returned to the sacrifices and temple worship established at their beginning. When they had a king that forsook God and worshiped idols, then they built high places and indulged in child sacrifice and temple prostitution. At one point, the Mosaic Law was not just forgotten, the scrolls that contained it were buried in the temple so that the people didn’t even know what God’s standard was.

Post-truth. They lived at the whim of whoever was on the throne.

The northern kingdom fared worse. They actually went from one coup to another as particular military men vied for control of the nation. At one point in history, one man assassinated the sitting king, but the army followed a different leader. So the one who had connived to take the throne was himself ousted.

Chaos. Tyranny. By ignoring God’s law, by choosing autocracy, they actually forfeited their freedom.

Jesus says, The Truth will set you free. Of course, He also says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” So Jesus is the truth. The truth sets you free. Consequently, Jesus sets you free.

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Mid-Term Elections


VotingTomorrow we vote, and to be honest, this is a sad day for me. You see, the numbers of people who actually go to the polls is dismal. On top of that, here in California, most of the “races,” aren’t! So we have a candidate who has been indicted for corruption, another from a notoriously corrupt family, and another who is from a “famous” political family. Those will all probably win, even though they don’t deserve it and/or are up against someone far more qualified.

Add to that the fact that we vote for a number of propositions—something that has felt very democratic in the past. Until the courts overturn the stuff we vote for that the politicians don’t want.

In this upcoming election we are voting for a couple propositions that have obviously been written by top notch political schemers. One has three parts to it: test doctors for drugs, check a national database when there’s a prescription for a regulated substance, and change the dollar figure allowable in malpractice suits.

So all the commercials telling people to vote yes are about doctors who are staggering drunk into the operating room. But of course it’s trial lawyers who are funding those commercials because they can see dollar signs ahead of them if they get to sue for more and more money.

Then there’s the proposition that the health insurance companies are paying big bucks to stop. This one is couched as a “political power grab.” A caring doctor comes on in one commercial saying how awful the proposition is because it would allow a politician to determine not only the amount of money you’d be covered for but the kind of treatment the doctor can give. And after all, such things should be between a doctor and her patient only.

Sounds good, but what the proposition is saying is that the insurance commissioner will review the insurance companies’ proposed changes to coverage and that they’ll have to demonstrate that such changes are necessary. In other words, this proposition is protection from insurance company price gouging. Now that we HAVE to buy health insurance, if someone doesn’t regulate them, the industry can curb coverage or raise rates at will. Sure, it might be better if it wasn’t one insurance commissioner who has this regulatory power, but I want someone overseeing the health insurance companies.

But I suspect the ads have done their work and that proposition will go down in defeat.

There are a couple catch phrases that have worked in the past, and it’s interesting to see them get recycled. One is “power grab” as I mentioned above. Another is “protect the children.” The Republican running against Jerry Brown has used that one, which I think is a real stretch. I don’t see how Governor Brown’s policies have put children at risk. I don’t think it will win his opponent any votes, but we’ll see.

Obviously Governor Brown isn’t worried. I have yet to see an ad for his re-election. Yes, he’s been in a couple supporting two propositions he wants us to pass, and a friend told me he’s endorsed another politician for a different office. But he feels quite secure about his re-election, it’s apparent.

The other “protect the children” ads are for Superintendent of Schools, and that’s understandable. But of course both candidates can pull out that line. It’s what they should be doing.

The part of the election I hate the most is for the judges. I have no idea who these people are, but they have such an impact on society! I don’t have enough information about them to make an educated decision. There are a couple other offices I don’t really know about either—water board, board of equalization, controller, and county assessor. What do those officials do and what would make someone qualified to hold the office? I try to figure it out every election cycle, but then it blurs in my mind again.

The other thing we have to deal with here in California is term limits. I voted for term limits, but there are two problems. First, some people who are good at their job are getting termed out. I’m thinking of one of our county commissioners who used to represent my area until lines were redrawn. She’s more liberal than I’d like (but that’s true of all of the commissioners by virtue of the make up of our county), but she had the interest of the district at heart and went to battle for the things she felt were right.

So she’s out of a job, which brings up the other problem with term limits. Career politicians, who have name recognition even if they can’t be re-elected to their old job, just look for another one to run for. So we aren’t getting rid of these CPs—just recycling them.

OK, let the fun begin. I wonder if anything or anyone I vote for tomorrow will win. 😉

Published in: on November 3, 2014 at 6:04 pm  Comments (1)  
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