Sam pens a corker of a little essay on the selfish and childish demands for “freedom” surging through the MAGA subculture as it writhes under the constraints of having to think, for the first time in its self-absorbed life, about somebody else during a Pandemic:
This past summer we took a family vacation to a trout lake in the Okanagan. Every evening, my kids and I went to gather firewood. Up here in Canada, there are not many snakes and almost none of the few around are poisonous. Instead of a snake-bite kit, people here carry bear spray. But even after all these years, I have not recovered from learning how to move through brush and grass and water in Texas. I have a “snake reflex.” One evening, a mouse ran through some dry brush and sent me jumping ten feet into the air. My kids still tell that story at my expense, laughing.As beautiful as the Hill Country is, it taught me a lot about life and death. I learned a lot of lessons about how to not get yourself killed. Some of them I learned the hard way or the getting lucky way. I’ve been stuck in a canoe during a tornado warning. I’ve gotten my butt chewed out for shooting birdshot too close to a stock tank with people fishing. I’ve had a friend shoot and kill a five-foot rattlesnake I didn’t see after I must have walked right over it. I’ve driven my car too fast on a dry caliche ranch road and gone over a small creek bridge, rolled through a fence, and ended up in a horse meadow, with three rifles and ammo in my truck. I’ve had a water moccasin on my stringer of catfish, trying to steal my catch, and I’ve waded next to small and deadly copperhead floating in shallow water. I may have shot a few deer on the other side of the fence.There is a key insight in these lessons I learned that extended from gun and hunting safety to common-sense precautions, cautions that endure in my “snake reflex” to this day. That insight is this: freedom can kill you. In other words, just like the kid from the book “Into the Wild,” who ran off to be free and ended up dying of poisonous mushrooms, or the “Grizzly Man” who sought freedom with Alaskan grizzlies only to have himself and his girlfriend eaten by them, I learned that if I wanted to enjoy the beauty and the glory of the Texas Hill Country, I needed to learn how to walk and how to listen and how to dress and how to be careful and how to not take a shot in the wrong direction. I learned that being free entails self-control and respect and concern for safety.I am afraid that today there are a lot of people in the USA, and even in the Texas Hill Country, who seem to think that freedom is an “Into the Wild” or “Grizzly Man” fantasy. I call this “Braveheart Freedom” because it is an idea of freedom that thinks that freedom simply means the absence of external restraint or control. “FREEDOM!”, yell these William Wallace wannabes.“Braveheart Freedom” will get you killed, even the movie proves that much. If you run happy go lucky into a thick patch of bluebonnets, without a care or concern in the world, you are not truly free and your false sense of freedom holds you in a certain kind of bondage, like ignorance holds the fool. You may think and believe that you are truly free, but your presumption of freedom imperils you. And, if you run into that same patch of bluebonnets with a child who doesn’t know any better, then things are morally even worse because your idiotic “freedom” now imperils others, too.True freedom entails responsibility. If I want to hunt and fish, I have to accept responsibility for myself and everything around me. If I am with others, I have to keep on eye on them, too. If I am on someone’s land, I need to respect that. Plus, I need a license and more. Anyone selling freedom without a big helping of responsibility is selling snake oil. They are selling “Into the Wild” and “Grizzly Man” types of freedom. This “Braveheart Freedom” is the sort of freedom that gets people killed.Freedom is more than freedom from restraint or control or authority. Freedom, in its deepest sense, is for something. True freedom of this kind, freedom for happiness or the good life, can even face unjust restraint, control, or authority and retain the dignity of being free. The only way a person can find freedom from unjust restraint or immoral control is because they first have this internal sense of freedom for something. The person who has this internal sense of freedom can never be a slave, even if they are in bondage. When freedom is just the absence of authority, it quickly can lose its sense of responsibility and sense of what it is for. This kind of freedom becomes purely external and loses the real internal soul of freedom. This is the “Braveheart Freedom” that will get you killed.