So it's election day in the U.S.
I'm not going to go into a long tirade about who should win or who I voted for. I just think it's interesting to reflect on how different this voting experience was from the one four years ago.
I've changed quite a bit, and while the way I voted back then ended up being similar to how I did today, it was with much greater reluctance.
Back then, I think my fundamental guiding principle was that everyone should be basically financially equal. No one (at least almost no one) states that as their platform for election, but if you really think about it, it's a basic under-girder of much of the policy out there. That was my chief value, and I felt it was the government's responsibility to enforce that value.
I think that stemmed from the fact that I'm at least a somewhat empathetic person, and the massive inequalities that are out there in this country––let alone the world––lead empathetic people to look for solutions. Government is a solution.
Over the last four years though, I've slowly realized a number of inconsistencies with looking to government as a solution to inequity. At least for me looking to it, that is.
Ever since I was an adult, I've taken a pretty libertarian view of most issues. I think if people want to do drugs, the government shouldn't stop them. I think if people want to marry someone of the same sex, they should be able to. I think if people want to home-school their kids, they should be allowed to. I think if people don't want to get vaccinations, they shouldn't have to. I think if people want to grow their own food, they should be able to.
I DON'T necessarily agree with all of those things personally, but I don't feel it is in any way within the government's right to keep other people from them.
So what of the question of empathy? Because I see inequality in our society and feel bad about it, does that mean I can legislate MY empathy onto those who don't?
Over the last four years, I've slowly started to believe more and more that I can't.
How can the government force someone who doesn't feel empathy to give a large part of their possessions to endeavors that are basically charitable any more than the government can force a gay man to marry a woman, or an atheist to celebrate Easter? I don't think it can.
So if we look at our world and feel empathy, then I think WE should do something about it––not force other people to do something about it.
I'm not going to say who I voted this morning, but I can tell you that I did vote, and with a lot more confidence than I did four years ago.