Thursday, January 11, 2007

Freedom to eat Trans-fats Vs Nanny State

C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity:

"One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting every one else to give it up. That is not the
Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons—marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the
moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning."

One of the things that annoys me in politicians and public discourse is the notion that I need to be told how to live my life. The current wave of hysteria in New York these days is about banning "trans-fats". This supposedly to protect "the people" from their own lack of self-control. Now in the interest of disclosure I am not fat (135 lbs and 13% body fat), so it is difficult for me to sympathize with people who struggle with their weight. But the greater point is not whether we should ban trans-fats, but whether the government should be in the business of imposing their will on everyone on whether they need "saving" or not.

In this aspect, both the left and right politically in this country behave in much the same way. Each operates with religious fervor to "save" the general population from the evils they perceive - whether it be second-hand smoke, pornography, carbon emissions or gay marriage. The religious right thinks that God justifies their position. The left think that because they are not religious that their position is "holier". In fact, both sides are mirror images of each other.

I think C.S. Lewis got it exactly right in the quote I referenced above. As a Christian my first responsibility is neither to judge nor impose my will on others, it is to change myself. I try my best to be a good role model for my children in my ethical behavior. I am more likely to try to lead by example then give lectures to my kids.

Now when in public discussions with others about moral, ethical or political issues, I don't lay down and just let others opinions go unchallenged. Whether the topic is religious, global warming, morality or anything else controversial I will state my opinion and the reasons for it. But I do not get into arguments and try to convince others to adopt my opinions. If after hearing my opinion, others choose to lead their lives differently, so be it. We all have free will.

It would be nice to live in a world that respected others free will, but I guess that is too Utopian an idea to have much merit. For now we are dropping more and more into a Nanny State that will force us to live the way the left and right zealots insist. Will this make us happy? Not really, happiness will only come when you become empowered to control your life.

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