Tuesday, March 22, 2016 | No comments

What Liberty Means to Me

By Nichelle Aiden

Who cares if Joe down the road can’t keep bees? I don’t want to, don’t think I ever will want to, so why should I care? They can fight to change the law if they want to. I’m not interested in renting out my home while I’m out of town, so why should I care if there’s a law keeping my neighbor from doing so? I’m not sick or in constant pain and am not interested in using medical cannabis, either. So why should I worry that it’s not legally available to those who may need it? I heard a story about police seizing a guy’s property when they pulled him over—and they kept it, even though they didn’t charge him with a crime… but who cares? That wasn’t me so it’s not my concern. Right?

… Right?

Definitely not to that careless degree, but in a certain way with certain issues, that was me six months ago before I joined Libertas Institute. Outside a few specific issues I did care about, if it didn’t affect me directly… I wasn’t very concerned if a law was unconstitutional or violated someone’s personal rights. And then one day Connor Boyack hired me.

My second day on the job I sat in our conference room with my coworkers and listened to a man tell us his heartbreaking story about having his parental rights violated, and being unable to even see his children as a result. I’ve listened to Enedina Stanger and others tell their stories about being unable to use medical cannabis for their crippling pain or disease because the government has decided it should be illegal. I’ve heard stories about asset forfeiture, farmers being shut down, and companies that aren’t allowed to sell their products in Utah. The list goes on and on.

Over the last few months, it has hit me again and again that liberty is an all-encompassing blanket over everyone, regardless of where they live. If my neighbor isn’t free to live his life as he wishes—even if it’s not what I would choose for my own life—that by default keeps me from being free. Even if it doesn’t affect me directly, my freedom is tied to that of my neighbor’s. Liberty affects us all.

I love this quote from Joaquin Nabuco: “Educate your children, educate yourself, in the love of the freedom of others, for only in this way will your own freedom not be a gratuitous gift from fate.”

I also love this from Penn Jillette: “My whole take on libertarianism is simply that I don’t know what’s best for other people.” YES. Just… yes. I don’t know what is best for my neighbor Bob and it’s not my role or right to tell him what he should or shouldn’t or can or can’t do with his life, body, and property. So why does Tom, who happens to work for the government, get to tell me or Bob what we can or can’t do when we’re not hurting anyone else?

The definition of liberty is becoming very simple to me: everyone should be able to live as they choose, as long as they respect everyone else’s equal rights. That’s pretty straightforward and makes sense, I think. Since joining Libertas Institute these ideas of liberty and freedom and personal rights are becoming more and more simple to me. It just is simple—and now I’m part of a team trying to bring that simplicity to the state legislature. As you may know, we’ve got our work cut out for us.

About the Author

Nichelle is Libertas Institute's director of communications, managing press, social media, external communications, and new media production.


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