Friday, January 14, 2011

On Fear, Kinder Eggs, and Freedom

The other day Sebastian posted some links about the horrors of chocolate.  To summarize:  A woman tried to bring a Kinder Egg into the United States from Canada.  For those of us uncultured Americans who don't know what a Kinder Egg is, it's a hollow chocolate egg with a tiny toy (in a little plastic "egg" of its own) inside.  This woman had her car searched...and the border agents found a Kinder Egg.  If she had succeeded in bringing it into the United States, she would have faced a $300 fine.  If she wanted to contest the seizure, she'd have to pay $250 for storage fees.

All this, for a $2 treat.

Now, why is this egg banned?  Because the "tiny" toy inside can be a choking hazard.

Never mind that it's been popular in Europe and Canada for decades--and that, to the best of my knowledge, no one has choked on these things.  We have to ban them, because someone might choke on them!

And that, my dear readers, is what "Freedom from Fear" gives us:  a petty tyranny, that attempts to control the smallest details of our lives, to protect us from each other and from ourselves.

As for myself, there's only one Freedom I understand:  the freedom to observe the world, and then choose actions based on those observations.  Indeed, this is the only freedom--because it's the definition of freedom.  We are all born free, and are free to pursue any course of action, ranging from helping others, to sleeping in this morning, to murder.  No law passed will change that.

What laws can do is make it difficult to act on our desires.  Thus, for example, it is difficult to bring in a Kinder Egg from Canada to the United States.  Once across the border, such an egg will be almost completely innocuous--there's always a danger that it will kill people, but for crying out loud, a person can choke on the chocolate of the egg itself!--yet it's an object that must be Feared, and those who do not fear it must be Punished!

If you truly want Freedom from Fear, the key is to look at the world around you:  you will see countless dangers around us, in virtually every object, and every person.  You will also see that the chances of any one object or person causing you harm are very, very small--and the chances are even smaller if you learn how to handle the most dangerous of these objects correctly!

But the Freedom from Fear mindset doesn't do this:  instead, it sees the danger in every object, and in every human interaction, and tries to ban everything that has the slightest bit of danger--and what can't be banned, must have a warning label, and must be registered with the government, and the user must be licensed to use it.  And we absolutely must do these things, because if it will save one life, it will be worth it!

Never mind all those dead people who suffocated in their cocoons of red tape.

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