Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Never Ending Balancing Act: Freedom vs. Order

Communal restrictions come in many forms; laws, ideological standards, social norms, and narrow minded thinking. These are all examples of order, order that suppresses freedom. Much of this suppression is justified by the promise of security; laws may seem like they infringe on personal rights and privacy, but if they ensure a safe society, its worth it, right? Right? That is where the balance comes into question. Everyone wants freedom until their security flaws are shown; then, suddenly, everyone wants security, ready to sacrifice their last rights for a sense of safety.

An example of this scramble for security and following realization of freedom loss in this century was September 11th, 2001. Prior to this fateful day, airport security, technological monitoring, and privacy of U.S. citizens in general was much more open. People breezed through airports without spending hours in security, no one worried about the government reading all their private emails. However, after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the American people scrambled for safety, for some sense of security. This security was actualized by the Patriot Act. This act allowed the government to access all of your personal information and data, including emails and phone calls, if they as much as suspected terrorism. While this act has likely thwarted many an attack, it is a prime example of liberty versus security. No one likes feeling unsafe, but no one likes losing their right to privacy either.

To be frank, there is no correct balance of freedom and security. The perception of balance is whimsical in itself; as demonstrated by 9/11, it takes a single event to sway everyone’s mindset, to convince everyone that their relative safety is worth the loss of privacy. The argument must be nuanced and must not be analyzed as a polar issue. Where order stands strong, it will have its supporters. Where order stands strong, it will have its antagonizers, its enemies. The same goes for freedom; while conceptually, freedom is a pure right, who is to say that freedom isn’t dangerous, that it doesn’t eventually lead to a loss of liberty through the consequences of low security?

The argument for balance is inconclusive and impossible. Personally, I prefer to err on the side of freedom. As long as the risk remains relatively low, increased liberty is a pillar of open existence and a risk I am willing to take. Excess of order has proven to be just as, if not more, dangerous than excessive freedom (think Fascist Italy).


  1. i agree that it is impossible to find a satisfying balance between order and freedom

  2. Good points, I think were all in accordance that a perfect balance of order and freedom is unattainable. I like your personal take on the issue as well.