Be lions, not sheep

I am blessed to live around Americans who are fiercely protective and proud of their freedoms.  They live their lives, enjoy their families, look out for their friends, and pray to God without asking anybody for permission.  For people lucky enough to be surrounded by a culture of freedom, it is sometimes difficult to understand why people would choose to live any other way.  Looking to government functionaries to bless everything we do seems like taking the life out of life.  May I read this word?  May I say this word?  May I park my truck here?  May I breathe fresh air without checking first with the CDC?  If you have to ask, then you're hardly free.

At one time, the culture I describe was more or less dominant throughout the United States.  Now it exists in enclaves.  And for Americans in freedom's enclaves watching America's socialist sheep get in line so the State can steal their wool and pet them on their heads for their continued obedience, this behavior seems downright loony.  "Be a lion," we say.  "Learn to rule yourselves.  Go be your own man."  Instead, they turn up their heads at people like us, shame the other sheep who dare think for themselves, and just "baa...baa..." on Twitter until enough other sheep "baa" right back.  They march in the same line, sing the same song, and compliment each other for their shared beliefs.  

One people separated by two definitions of freedom:

If you've ever listened to the way a sheep speaks, you will have noticed that its language is familiar.  It talks generously about freedom and equality — the same things lions fight for.  But whereas lions desire the freedom to work and live without some master telling them how, sheep desire the freedom of not needing to work or deciding how to live at all.  And whereas lions cherish equality of opportunity and equality under the law, sheep demand equality of outcome, regardless of any one sheep's efforts.  A sheep thinks being kept safe in a pen without worry is freedom, and being shorn the same way and fed the same way as every other sheep in the pen is equality.  

For lions, the sheep's freedom is imprisonment, and the sheep's equality is slavery.  No matter how nice the field of grass, an animal in a pen cannot be free, and no matter how equal their existence within the pen, no animal inside can ever be equal to those wandering creatures outside it.  Lions grow their manes as they wish.  They hunt what they want.  They explore and create families and live how they choose.  And outside the security of a pen, the lion's freedom comes with an acceptance that happiness is not guaranteed, that misery is quite possible, and that life tends to dole out both in unequal portions.  

Freedom and free markets are chaotic:

Why would anyone choose to be a sheep in lieu of a lion?  Is it simply the safety and security of the sheep's pen?  No doubt that is true for many sheep, but the more important question is why the shepherd built the pen in the first place.  For Americans still living within one of freedom's enclaves, it is easy to forget how risky freedom can be for people in charge.  When people are free to pursue what they want and to live how they will, there can be no aristocracy with special rights.  And if there is no special class of persons entitled to hold power over everyone else, then any old lion, no matter how common, might earn a position of power through work and effort.  

If there is no shepherd with a title to pass the job along from one generation to the next, then the power in a free society moves from one family to another according to the talents and needs of all.  And if the shepherd no longer holds a monopoly on creating wealth, then fortunes rise and fall from one generation to the next, too.  In true free markets, the top one percent always changes, and when the top one percent doesn't change, there are no truly free markets.  "How chaotic," says the shepherd because his control is no longer absolute.  "How liberating," say the lions because they have always known how to shepherd themselves.

Flock of fools:

For lions who remain free, there is nothing so strange as watching sheep enforce the shepherd's rules.  "Why do you keep getting off the path?" they bleat.  "Why won't you get in the pen when it's best for the flock?  Why won't you do what the shepherd wants when surely the shepherd knows best?"  

"Because we are free," say the lions, "and we were meant to choose our own paths far away from cages."

Most sheep simply cannot understand.

That is the genius of the shepherd.  When young lambs grow up following in the footsteps of sheep already inured to their pen, each subsequent generation forgets what life outside the pen is like.  Living inside and under the shepherd's control is all they've ever known.  Of course the shepherd should be in charge.  That's the way it's always been.  Of course the sheep should do what they're told.  That's what they've always done.  

Sometimes it's difficult for freedom-minded Americans to understand why anyone would live as sheep do.  The problem is that too many Americans who blithely follow orders and promptly get in line when told have never known any other way to live.  Teaching such a person how truly to be free can be just as tricky as training a sheep to stand on two legs and let loose a roar.

Image: AlkeMade via Pixabay, Pixabay License.