Most of us are probably familiar with these old aphorisms which call on each of us to do our part in opposing evil and righting the world's wrongs: "If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem" or "All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing". Each of these statements insinuate that everyone has a moral obligation to pass judgments, condemn what we perceive as wrong, and work strenuously to correct whatever has been identified. By implication, not to do so, would make us evil through neglect. No matter how one feels about conflict and condemning others, it is actually an imperative that we engage in these activities. If we don't, we are at least cowardly and at most as evil as the one's we should oppose.
We see this type of reasoning demonstrated routinely in the lives of people all round us. The idea that we must be the judge of others and the enforcer of righteousness is embedded in our brains from earliest childhood. An all knowing God may be the ultimate judge of everyone; but, in the meantime, it is up to good men to hold the rest of humanity in check, till God gets around to His part.
What about those of us who are not too keen on being the judge of rightness in others? What about those who shun the role of enforcer and opposer of evil, feeling that they have their hands full controlling their own lives? Are these type individuals really morally deficient, weak, and cowardly. Is the practice of minding my own business and embracing the other aphorism: "Live and let live" actually wrong?
People, who really and truly believe in freedom and not some legal system which they unnaturally define as liberating, cannot realistically run around constantly checking on everyone else in an attempt to restrict and constrain their actions. Our compulsion to work on and fix everyone else is never, ever going to actually free anyone. Real freedom is risky; it does not demand security. I cannot be free to live as I see fit while at the same time working to limit another man's freedom to do so. Who decides who the good men are that get to judge and restrict the rest? Institutional religion? The political process? The managers of commerce? Some may want to allow some or all of these men to be the arbiters of acceptable behavior and lead the charge against evil, but what results will not be freedom. It may be orderly to some folk's liking, but freedom it won't be.
In discussing and evaluating our freedom, we need to be very discerning in our reasoning and language. Restrictions don't generate freedom, they limit it. Security in all its forms is opposed to freedom. Security is maximized when we submit to the most draconian of totalitarian states. To demand security of the state is an open invitation to oppression, and we have ample recent evidence to support that fact.
Let's drop our fascination with "doublespeak" and the language of eternal warfare and just recognize that we have fed ourselves a lie and called it the truth. We can't look for evil opponents in order to correct the problems we encounter. Each person must work on improving their own selves. That is where we can be effective.
When we try to improve society by opposition and the use of violence, our most favored method of opposing, we simply perpetuate the kind of self righteous, knee jerk behaviors which generate what we oppose in the first place. Fighting fire with fire may sound logical, but in the end we all get burned.