A Little Bit Melancholy and a Little Bit Philosophical

Though the vast majority of us seek both freedom and security, most of us historically have recognized the need to temper each so we can enjoy sufficient levels of the other. The concept that “your freedom ends where mine begins” refers to the competing behaviors that give rise to the need for civil limits on freedom. “Pure” freedom invites chaos because it does not acknowledge responsibilities to protect members of society from damage inflicted by the freedoms enjoyed by others. Therefore, societies establish generally agreed limits on freedoms, thereby securing what their members collectively accept as reasonably limited levels of freedom. When those limits infringe too deeply on freedoms in the name of “security,” people tend to complain or rebel. Conversely, when freedoms are so unrestrained as to fail to protect or preserve the enjoyment of freedom by others, members of society tend to clamor for greater restraints: more rules equal more security to enable the enjoyment of freedoms so infringed.

The USA today is in the throes of intense and frequently uncivil debates—and too often violent disagreements—about what constitutes acceptable levels of freedom. Hyper-progressives demand freedoms that über-conservatives find both offensive and potentially dangerous to the freedoms right-wingers want to enjoy. Similarly, über-conservatives demand freedoms that hyper-progressives find equally offensive and dangerous. It is interesting that both ends of the political spectrum fiercely depend their positions but refuse to accept exactly the same arguments from their opponents that they employ themselves. In both cases, they are in effect saying, “your freedom ends where I say it does and mine has no limits.” In other words, “only my position matters.” At both ends of the spectrum, but especially on the far right, I increasingly see demands that “my” freedom be secured by “my” rules.  And that security, again especially on the right, seems to involve guns and a fanatical worship of a narrow interpretation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The solution to the impasse? I do not know. But I suspect it will involve either one or more supremely charismatic leaders whose words will somehow calm the growing rage or bloodshed of epic proportions, followed by either right-wing or left-wing authoritarianism. I hope, fervently, that charisma wins the day. I see no evidence of its emergence today, though. Neither Democrats nor Republicans seem equipped to handle the challenge, largely because level-headed, intelligent, persuasive people either have left the parties in disgust or their voices have been so effectively drowned out that no one can hear them. Both parties shriek when they talk; their screams are used to attack their opponents and to defend their indefensible positions. The charismatic leader, if one is to emerge, must be apolitical and secular. Good luck.


Last night, we watched the entire third season of After Life, which is more than a bit of a tear-jerker. The end of the last episode is very much open to interpretation; it can be interpreted as either very dark or much lighter and more in keeping with the idea that “life goes on.” All three seasons reminded me of my own eternal sadness that will never recede. Maybe that’s why it was such a tear-jerker for me. Ach.


This morning, I’ll be off soon to get a haircut, then to the bank to get some spending money, then to pick up a prescription for my sweetheart’s dog, and then to the paint store to get more rollers. And I have to drive into town to pick up a prescription refill for me—one that seems to have helped my stuffy head a bit. From there, I’ll head back to the salt mines, paint brush and roller in hand, to make a tiny bit of progress on the makeover of the new house. It’s slow, slow going. I imagine this project may take months to finish, at the rate I’m going. I wish I were flush with unnecessary money. I would hire all the work done.


My mood this morning can best be described as moderately melancholy with a measure of or two of weariness thrown in. I’d like to replace that with something a little more appealing, but I don’t know quite how to get there.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to A Little Bit Melancholy and a Little Bit Philosophical

  1. Deanna, I’m glad you’re enjoying After Life. Your appreciation for the series reveals that you are intelligent and sensitive (I’ve thought that all along, of course!). I’m careful not to reveal too much about video and books; I hate it when people ruin things for me by giving everything away. You’re smart not to pay much attention to news media; I wish I had your discipline. 😉

  2. Deanna says:

    I just started watching After Life last night, now up to Season 2, Episode 4. Wasn’t much of a Ricky Gervais fan before, but I am taken with this show. Thank you for not revealing the end! Also, I have stopped watching any news in an effort to enjoy a more serene life. I admit to glancing at the headlines of the NYT, but that is all. I am becoming blissfully ignorant of what is happening, which is fine with me, because in almost all cases 1) fretting over what is happening leads to unnecessary stress and 2) there is very little to nothing I can do to change any of those problems, so why stay exposed to such negativity?

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