What Kind Of Freedom

We want freedom. We want freedom to think and be as we wish to be. We want to say that anyone can be whatever religion or not that they want, love who they want to love. We are free to think as we wish and we are free to express those thoughts. Yet there are limits and I can’t wrap my head around how you set or enforce them. We don’t have thoughcrime, and I do not think we should ever go that far. We live in a time when we do say that screaming “nigger go back to Africa” at somebody is not ok. But can we address the underlying thought? We can change laws but how do we keep a parent from passing that mentality on to a child? Can we? Do we have a right?

Some people, like those who voted for Trump, feel marginalized, and he spoke to their fears. People shouldn’t feel left behind or left out, but if they are because they hate brown people or think that gays should be put to death, do we change their minds? Do we just let them carry on hidden in the shadows? Do we isolate them and hope they die out?

How do we have freedom and equality when so many people still hold firmly to outdated, outmoded beliefs? To remove cancer from the body we use chemicals, radiation, and even surgically remove parts of the body. Can we do the same to thoughts we no longer find acceptable? I think it’s mostly forgotten in the 21st century that the term ‘meme’ did not always mean funny internet thing. It was originally coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. A meme is the societal/cultural equivalent of a gene, an idea or behavior that can be passed to others. So it can be insightful to think of something like racism not just as an attitude or something that parents can teach their children through example, but even beyond that, as a meme that has imparted some perceived survival benefit to some group of people. It get passed down because the people who have this attitude are more successful that people in their group who do not. I don’t have any idea how big these groups might be. Probably small, family groups, or just the town you live in.

Changes in environment can change pressures enough so that certain gene traits die out. Changes in food sources or temperature mean that what once was a beneficial genetic specialization becomes ineffective. With unacceptable memes I’m not sure the same works. Like I said, we’ve changed laws. We tell people you can’t do that or say that in public. But it hasn’t died out. Will it just take more time? I return again to my concern that we just sweep it under the rug where it will fester until bursting out again in 20 years.

I don’t have answers here, I wish I did. All I know is that we need to do much better at dealing with the divisions of race, sex, gender, and religion if we are ever to evolve as a civilization.