In the current climate of “freedom of conscience”, I have been pondering what freedom means.  I can’t help but return again and again to words of Byron Katie in Loving What Is: “There is my business, your business and God’s business.”  For the less religiously or spiritually inclined, it might read, “There is my business, your business and nobody’s business.”  And, as George Constanza so eloquently bellows, “You know, we’re living in a society!!”

Living in a society, how do we preserve “my business” or the freedom of the individual?  When it comes to “freedom of conscience”, have we the freedom to apply our conscience to the actions of others?  The answer for me is, quite simply, no.  I apply my conscience to my choices and allow others their conscience and their choices.  This is the freedom to be legislated and what I believe our forefathers were after, a freedom of individual conscience and choice within a societal context despite the conscience of others.

Add to this the application of pragmatism, which has been suggested to be the  foundation for our context of freedom. Pragmatism, as I understand it, recognizes the individual experience.  When individual experience is common to the majority, i.e. killing each other is not acceptable, then laws are made to address the killing of one another.  However, even within these laws, experiential allowances are included.  For instance, the determination of intent is broken down into degrees of murder and manslaughter.  We are allowed to be angry, we just aren’t allowed to infringe on the being of another with our actions.

I hear the cry that conscience is being infringed upon if I have to support the choices of others.  To me, supporting the choices of others has everything to do with living in a society.  We preserve individual choice, mine and yours.  I choose to make a wrong turn on a one-way road and get into an accident.  I have insurance that helps amend that mistaken choice.  Universal healthcare is the preservation of societal finances and well-being by allowing each other our choices while pooling our resources to amend individual mistakes in the least financially detrimental way for both the individual and society.

Because, here’s the thing, though we each have an experience of God’s intent, we are not any one of us God or, in secular terms, all-knowing.  There is enough discrepancy of experience of life and its meaning that we have not entered a common experience of it, so how can we be to a point of legislating it?  In fact, it begs the question, is not life and its meaning fully in the hands of God, or certainly outside the realm of human understanding and no one person’s business?  Does any one of us truly have our mind around life and its meaning?  Seems to me that cannot be the case in as much as the meaning of life is the ultimate human inquiry.

In support,

~ Jacqueline

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