There is one ideal I hold above others. Freedom.
Freedom in all it's forms, freedom of thought, freedom of body, freedom of expression, freedom of religion… financial freedom… all are things I've spoken about in the past. Indeed the address of my blog represents that freedom, schoonerhelm a schooner being a fast ship and the helm being the point that controls the ship.
I was once of the opinion that all people want the same thing I want, freedom is a universal ideal is it not? No one wants to be told they can't. Or do they?
I've mentioned before that I'm a gamer, role playing games is my passion and I run one on a regular basis. Running a game is like this: I take the game setting, which is published by a game company, the setting provides a basic framework for what can and can't go on in the game. I then create a micro setting within that framework which I use to tell a story. The players within the game take on the roll of single individuals who interact with my setting and story.
I love freedom, and the appeal of gaming is that I'm free to do what ever I'd like as long as I can envision how to do it. So when I run games I pass that on to my players, I present them with a wide expanse for them to interact with and play within however they like. I in turn have my setting respond to their actions in a way that I deem plausible, gently steering them through small events so that my story gets told. There's a knack to it, and I've been doing it for years and am by no means a master. This open style of game-play has a term, it's called a sandbox game, meaning you have a big sandbox that you can do anything in.
Two days ago, one of my players was venting and said that I should quit running things like a sandbox, he said a lot of other stuff too, but that infuriated me. Allowing my players the freedom to explore my setting without having them walk a tight line is what makes my games GOOD! I'm not strict, you want to do something, go ahead, it'll be fun! In fact I encourage my players to do things I don't expect, I love proactive players, they make my job easy and stimulate my mind by making me consider the consequences of their actions.
I was listening to a radio show last year during national nonsmoking week. One of the topics was that the city council of my town were being pressured to pass a bill saying that no business should allow smoking on it's premises. The current law in effect was that no business that catered to minors could allow smoking, but all other businesses were allowed to choose whether or not they allowed it. Many of the city councilmen were business owners themselves and believed that they would rather have the choice than to have the government take it away from them, and said as much. I was very proud of them.
What came after I was not so proud of. The radio morning show hosts held 4 hours of phone in's saying how bad smoking was to pressure the city council to take away that choice. I tried to phone in and tell them that they were asking to have their freedom of choice taken, but I could not get on.
These events and others lead me to believe that many people do not want freedom as I do. They want to be told, to be hemmed in by boundaries and have their choices taken away. If there is no choice then they do not have to be scared of making the wrong one.
Indeed, myself and some of the most free-minded people that I know grew up in horribly oppressive and stifling atmospheres. While others, who were given so many opportunities growing up have become very closed-minded and look at choice as an inconvenience, they would rather let others make the decisions for them.
Is there a balance? Should people be forced to walk the line so that they can truly understand what it means to be free? I think perhaps. We are creatures ruled by our desires, if we are not hungry we do not look for food, if we are not lonely we do not look for companionship, and if we are not confined we do not push our boundaries back.