What Freedom Looks Like In Modern America
The patriarchal father of the past looms large. He would love and cherish his children, and when he discovered their misdeeds, he was quick to punish them. Decisively so. He would saddle them with chores and restrictions. He was quite the tyrant. Yet he would give them more and more freedom, so slowly they hardly noticed, as his children obeyed his will. With each passing year, he showed less and less oversight, and more and more freedoms to his offspring.
If ever a child abused these freedoms, the father would immediately deny him these hard-won freedoms. Freedom relied on responsibility to bring order – without responsibility, freedom was out of the question. Freedom could not bequeath order where there was no responsibility.
Nowadays, this sequence is reversed, if it remains at all. Parents grant children freedom and privileges before they have shown any aptitude to use them wisely. And the father lacks the conviction to restrain a child when the child misbehaves – if only because the father himself indulges. He lacks conviction to mete out meaningful punishment, and fears he is out of touch. He always has a submissive posture – go to any place where parents and children gather, and you’ll see a wayward father trailing after his child. The viewer is in doubt as to who leads whom.
He may be overworked, which limits his time with his children. He cannot bear to see them unhappy, so he spends his every moment with them placating their wants, hoping this will please them. If he dares punish them, he worries he is being draconian, too “paternalistic” even.
He worries that he doesn’t outwardly love his children enough. So he avoids any action that could be mistaken for being hateful – he avoids doling out strict punishment, because he cannot bear to see them cry. The masculine desire to do right by his offspring is corrupted into an effeminate instinct to keep them from feeling hurt or offended. And his children will superficially reward him with a smile when he relents and gives them what they crave. The more he placates them, the more spineless and entitled they become. They learn to unleash a tantrum at the merest trigger. And their father only wilts before such emotionalism.
The patriarch is not popular nowadays. He is a man of deep conviction – he is close-minded, unreceptive to innovation; so we write him off as dim and dull. As we’ve strayed from his example, the problems we set out to solve have only multiplied. Perhaps it’s time we gave him his due.
We say we want freedom. Yet we crave the fruits of restriction and self-denial. We slave away for an appealing physique; we study difficult languages to live in faraway lands; we enter strange and discomfiting situations to near ourselves to beauty; it’s clear that sacrifice is no foreign, abstract thing – it is very much a daily reality. To say otherwise is to admit to a life of sloth and stagnation.
Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but nobody wants to lift no heavy ass weights. – Ronnie Coleman
Here in America, we are bombarded with offers of tasty, addictive food. We know it to be bad for us, that it will fatten and age us, yet we indulge. Hundreds and thousands of people devote themselves to the craft of making these foods as addictive and cheap as possible. They pay no concern to the food’s effect on health, so long as the customer gladly pays up. To be an American is to believe that God smiles upon every corporate dollar made, no matter how ill-gotten. The American clamors for his right to consume anything and everything, and then wonders why his country is beset by the moral plague of fatness.
The people of America have grotesquely abused this freedom to choose. Their sins can be seen from every street corner, as they waddle about as their limp sweatpants pay no remonstrance to their swelling bulk. As King David wrote thousands of years ago, they are entombed in their own fat as they speak proudly. They have manifestly failed to stay trim. When a man ceases to act like an adult, it becomes necessary to stop treating him as if he were one. Freedom is no solution for a wayward child or a lapsed drug addict – the American people are no exception. If it is freedom they cannot handle, then it is freedom they shall be denied.
Already, one can hear the cries of “freedom” ringing out, objecting to any measures to stem the tide of fatness. “Draconian, paternalistic!” they will say. Precisely. Paternalism is a virtue when dealing with children.
Of these naysaying freedom fighters, I must ask, where were they when Edward Snowden revealed how the American government spies on its own people? When American officials were threatening war in yet another Middle Eastern country? When bureaucrats are confiscating guns away from law-abiding men? Or when the government was facilitating death at the hands of Mexican cartels by selling them guns? When government universities expel students with unconstitutional speech codes and flippant standards of evidence for sexual assault convictions? They were watching American Idol.
The public can’t be bothered to care about those freedoms. Already, the only freedom the establishment protects is the freedom to consume, the freedom to define oneself by one’s selection of multinational brands and syndicated television shows. To buy and consume freely from one company or another, to admit no impediment to the American dollar, that is the freedom to which the government of right and left have joined to protect. Heaven forbid an embargo on iPhones. But raise the prospect of questioning their treasured sweets, and the sausage-fingered rise up in digital fury.
A few Western men are discovering the obvious superiority of women abroad. Thin, feminine, graceful, they say of foreign women. Let us take after them, and consider a thought experiment – that there exists two countries, Freedonia and Patria. Abstinence and restraint are unheard of in Freedonia – everyone indulges to their gut’s content. And they have figures of piggish proportion to show for it.
Meanwhile, in Patria, Pop Tarts and Tootsie Rolls are nowhere to be found. The markets in Patria are simple, spartan affairs. Aisles are lined with produce and spices, sacks of grains and legumes, with meat and seafood, and simple oils and condiments.
As Hilaire Belloc noted, we have a word for men short and tall, dwarf and giant, but no word for a man of medium stature. So too, in Patria “cooking from scratch” is unheard of – because that is all they have ever known. To cook any other way is to propose riding a bicycle without wheels –utterly incomprehensible. The men and women of Patria are broadly aware of the basic principles of cooking, with curing meats and fermenting crops. Corpulence of any kind is confined to the sick and disabled.
One has to ask, what kind of man would opt for a nation free in name but wracked by sloth and cowardice in reality, where beauty is obscured by fleshy extrusions of fat? For a land where indulgence is the rule, and discipline the exception? For a home where children cannot rely on their mother to prepare a healthful meal? Would you trust a man so disposed with the care of your business, with the hand of your daughter, with the pulpit of your church? Only a man under the spell of gluttony and decadence could prefer a nation like Freedonia, yet these men abound today.