On ethics, normality and freedom

When I were young many of my friends dreaded being different from everyone else. I dreaded being like everyone else… What is it that drives us to be normal, like everyone else. I can understand that to preserve our culture, we need a certain degree of sameness, but that can be boiled down to a general adherence to the same set of rules and laws.

The really interesting period came around in later years though, teens and twenties. All of a sudden everyone wanted to be so individual and flaunting your own ideals was the name of the game. But, in this incessant fight to be individual, most of my friends dressed, talked and thought more or less in the same way. Why is that? Are we incapable to be individuals? Or is this just an effect of teens and twenty-somethings need for attention and individualization in relationship to their families. We fight to not be like our parents, but as the saying goes: “Children tend to rebel against their parents beliefs, but tend to inherent their values.”

But what is this normal that we can’t seem to avoid? What is normal, what is it we either want or don’t want depending, it seems, on our age? Is it society at large? There are no moral laws stated outside religion, and since religion doesn’t permeate society anymore, most people are dependent on society to state what’s OK, and what’s not. There is one BIG problem with this: we are the society. Is ethics nothing more than what the ‘plebes’ think is OK? In a way, that would be thoroughly depressing.

It would seem there is a war on the rising between those who think moral values are God given and those who don’t know where they come from, but they are pretty damn sure they do not come from God… This is apparent in the conflict between the middle east and everywhere else, and between Christians and non-Christians in the US. But this is where traditional European freedoms come in to play. We have to protect our rights at all cost, but sadly they are not. In the “war on terror” it has become OK to circumvent freedoms to “protect” said freedoms. Where’s the logic in that?

Why are these, more or less enlightened, freedoms so important? Because they allow us to have our own ethics, insofar as we can. Granted you can’t kill anyone at will and a few other things. But it allows for your own views on things like marital status, who you should live with, monogamy or pollyamory (though most western societies, intriguingly, prohibit polygamy), your religious choice, political views etc. It even allows for you to be against the freedoms, as long as you don’t hinder anyone else to exercise theirs.

We all have an obligation to protect the basic rights, because we and following generations have a basic right for it!


“We must plan for freedom, and not only for security, if for no other reason than only freedom can make security more secure.”
Karl Popper in The Open Society and Its Enemies, (1945)”Man is free at the moment he wishes to be”

“There ought to be limits to freedom.”
George W. Bush Satirical Web Site Poses Political Test. Washington Post (29 Nov 1999). Retrieved on 200708-11.

“They both savoured the strange warm glow of being much more ignorant than ordinary people, who were only ignorant of ordinary things.”
Discworld scientists at work (Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites)

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