Living Morally

The Practical Application Of Moral Principles

Be Free

[All the Living Morally articles are: "Must Choose," "Own Mind," "Must Learn," "Must Think," "Be One's Best," "Must Work," "Be Free," "Right Relationships," "Mind Own Business," "Self Defense." Links will be added as articles are published.]

This article continues the discussion of the practical application of the ten moral principles described in the article, Principles to every day life and the advantages of living by those principles.

Moral Principles Are Practical

Moral principles are reality based. They are determined by the reality of physical existence and our own natures as human beings. The purpose of those principles is to guide our choices and actions to achieve success as human beings and to be all we can be. The ultimate purpose of moral principle is the enjoyment of our lives.

Be Free

Freedom is a moral requirement for all individuals. Every individual must seek to be as free as possible, free to use their minds to think whatever they choose, free to make any choices they judge to be right, and free to work and produce in any way they choose. Failing to seek to be free, or seeking freedom by any means other than earning it by one's own effort is unethical.

Individual Freedom

I have addressed the question of individual freedom, what it means, why it is necessary, and how achieve it in several past articles, including:

Here I want to emphasize what your own personal individual freedom means.

Living Free

Freedom is not only not free it is not easy. Most people do not really want freedom; what they want is security, guarantees, and relief from responsibility. Freedom is not secure, it is risky. If you are free you must make your own provisions for dealing with the risks of life. Freedom means failure is alway possible and if you fail you must bear the cost of failure yourself. Freedom means responsibility for your own life and you must bear the consequences of every wrong choice, but it also means you will enjoy the rewards of your right choices without limit.

If you choose to live morally, successfully, and happily in this world, then you must be free to use your own mind to learn, to think, to choose, to work and strive to be the best human being you can possibly be. If you want to lively fully as a moral human bing you must be free.

Impediments To Freedom

I have pointed out before, if you were the only individual in the world, or an individual isolated in some geographical area, you would be perfectly free. Freedom does not mean free to have or do whatever you like, freedom means free to choose and do whatever you are mentally and physically able to do and have whatever you are able to produce or earn by your own effort. The only thing that can prevent you from from living as you choose is other individuals. If you really want to be free in this world becoming an ascetic recluse would do it, but it would also remove from your field of choice, every benefit of modern society. To be successful and happy in this world one must discover how to be free in the midst of society.

Since the only thing that can limit your freedom is the interference of other individuals, to secure your own freedom you must learn how to insulate yourself from that interference. The interference of others will come in two forms: physical and mental.

The physical form is the one that you probably think of first because it is the easiest to recognize. Physical interference is the use of coercive force or the threat of that force to make you do what you do not freely choose to do (like paying taxes) or not do what you choose to do (like work without getting government permission). The use of force or the threat of it is not restricted to governments, of course. Every kind of physical abuse and threat called crime, like murder, rape, beatings, kidnapping, robberies, and property destruction are all restrictions on your freedom, they are just less systematic than the government kind.

The mental form of interference is more insidious because it is more difficult to detect and identify, because it does not involve force or it's threat. The mental form of interference does not seem like a threat at all because it does not interfere in what you do, but in how you choose what to do.

In order to choose what you will do you must be able to think correctly about how and what to choose. To think correctly, your thinking must be based on true knowledge. Those who choose to interfere in your life without using force use a more subtle method of deceptive persuasion that bypasses correct reason and thinking by appealing directly to your irrational feelings, desires, whims, sentiments, fears, vanity, unrealistic hopes, irrational beliefs, and gullibility.

The physical kind of interference in you freedom works by forcefully preventing you from carrying out your chosen actions. The mental kind of interference works by crippling your ability to make correct choices, leaving you physically free but mentally incapable of choosing correctly.

Free From Physical Interference (Or Coercion)

There are two general classes of physical interference, the wholesale class, i.e. government, and the retail class, i.e. various thieves, thugs, and the world of petty criminals.

Dealing with the government class of threats to your freedom is easier, in some ways, than dealing with individual threats to your freedom. It is not too difficult to keep your eye on what government is doing to threaten your personal freedom. Depending on what your personal freedom requirements are, that is, what you want to do that government might prevent you from doing, freedom from government coercion consists of evading government observation, leaving government environment, or paying the government off. The one thing that cannot work is changing or eliminating the government.

[NOTE: The details of how to be free from government coercion are different for every individual. You may find some ideas for achieving your own freedom in the article, "Making Yourself Free," and the many short (6 to 7 year-old) articles from the now canceled, "Free Individual."]

Dealing with individuals who are a threat to your freedom depends entirely on the kind of threats you are realistically likely to encounter. Whatever defence method you choose, it is your responsibility to supply it. No one else is obliged to provide your freedom anymore than anyone else is obliged to provide your education, your healthcare or your food. In the real world, those who promise to provide protection of your freedom are the very one's your freedom needs protection from.

The prevalent idea that the only defence against force is force is simply not true. There are endless ways you can protect yourself, your loved ones, and your property without force, which are almost always more effective and less costly. See the article, "Moral Defense And The Use Of Force."

Free From Mental Interference (Or Deceit)

Freedom is sometimes described as the freedom to think and choose for oneself. Physical force can certainly be used to prevent you from doing what you choose but it cannot prevent you from thinking and choosing. It might discourage you from thinking or bothering to choose if you are aware you are not going to be able to do what you choose, but it cannot stop you from thinking; only mental interference can stop you from thinking, or at least from thinking correctly.

How can something that does not involve force at all be evil? That is a problem which has baffled philosophers and lawyers which they carefully avoid. For example fraud is considered immoral and evil, though fraud does not involve the use of force, which fact is simply ignored, or, dishonestly described as "force" because it involves the loss of material wealth or property. In the case of fraud, however, the victims are not threatened at all, and the loss is by their own ignorant agreement and choice. What is wrong with fraud is not any kind of physical assault or threat, but an assault on the mind.

It is true any wrong belief we have will limit our ability to think correctly and that the world is full of people teaching and promoting wrong, often disastrously wrong ideas, for which there is no shortage of individuals gullible enough to believe them. It is not however just the teaching of wrong ideas that counts as interference in another's freedom to choose, but the intentional use of methods of persuasion meant to bypass or defeat reason altogether.

They are the methods used by anyone who attempts to persuade others to make choices to support their program, buy their product, contribute money to their noble cause, or to vote for them. They are the methods of every fraud and scam artist, and are always the same. There is never a rational explanation of how the individual's choice will objectively benefit the individual (although most scams include language to make it sound that way). The method is always to appeal to an individuals desires or vanity, like one's desire to be seen as noble, or successful, or to be more attractive to the opposite sex which their product, courses, or programs will make happen. If not those feelings, the fraud will appeal to other aspects of your nature—your kindly feelings, your natural good will, your love for others, your generosity, and your sense of decency.

Let me tell you one of the schemes the frauds who attempt to interfere in your mind will use against you. They will say things like, "If you have plenty and you and your family have all you need, don't you think you are obligated to help those in your community who are less fortunate, who don't even have enough to provide themselves and their families with food, clothes, or medical care?" The appeal is not to your ability to think, but to your own natural good will and generosity. No one likes to see others suffer, especially the moral individual and frauds will attempt to make you feel guilty about other's failures.

So this is what you must know and think. Your success is not some kind of, "fortune," it is what you have earned. Most of the things people suffer are their own fault. Most of those who cannot provide for themselves or their families have not lived morally, have not learned all they could, have evaded thinking seriously about anything, have never take the long view in any of their decisions, have always allowed their feelings, whims, and desires to lead them, and have never worked at anything long enough to actually accomplish anything. Why should their failures make them a claim on your moral virtue because you did all those hard things and earned and produced all you have and enjoy. Why should you and your family have to give up anything for the sake of those who have never given up anything, especially to earn their own way. Why should you encourage them to continue living immorally which your bailing them out will do? It would be immoral to do so.

You have no responsibility to others, your community, society, your country, or the world. You are only responsible to make yourself free, to achieve and accomplish all you can, and to be the best human being you can be. Only that is living morally, only that will satisfy the requirements of your nature, and only that will make you successful and happy.

The truth is that moral individuals are the most generous and magnanimous of human beings. While they have no interest in some floating abstraction called humanity or mankind and feel no obligation to any group or collective such as a community or society, moral individuals both enjoy and love most other human beings, but only as individuals. Most moral individuals eagerly help other individuals when they can and enjoy doing things for others that please them, so long as it can be done without interfering in other's lives. They might say, "can I help you?" or, "would you like this?" when offering something, but they despise unasked favors themselves and would never intrude on others in that way.

Here is a secret. It's not a hidden thing, but one made obscure by those who do not want you to be free. The reason moral individuals are the most magnanimous and generous of people is because they have made themselves free to live their lives as they choose and are therefore neither dependent on or obligated to anyone. Moral individuals are free to enjoy others because they owe no one anything and no one owes them anything. The moral individual is free to enjoy and love others just as they are no matter how different their beliefs, thinking, choices and actions are from one's own.

There is only one kind of freedom, freedom from the interference of others in one's own life. Freedom is not easy to secure or achieve, but nothing of value is easy. If you are not free to think, to choose, and to act on your choices in all aspects of your life, you are not free to live, or achieve, or be what is possible to you as a human being. Morally, you must do everything you can to be free, or fail to be the best human being you can be.