Is there a tension between liberty and morality?
One of the most difficult and discursive issues in of a free society is how to accept other people and their actions. The political-philosophical statement of liberty is both one of the least popular aspects as well as a great strength of the modern society. Should we respect how others act if it is morally wrong, but they have a right to do that? For instance, there are many wrong ways how the people may guide their lives, like being bigots or racist. If they are not criminals there are no any legal methods to force them to change. It is not right from the moral point of view. However, moral is not law. Thus the issue is there a tension between liberty and morality remains to be controversial and should be studied in details.
The issue caused by the fact that the natural world constrains us. Every part of it constrains us from weather to gravity. However, we do not feel ourselves oppressed by nature, since we know that bodies are a part of it. However, we begin abused and constrained when other people intimidate us, use violence against us or force us to obey. Let us consider what liberty is. The main idea of it that every person has a right to govern his/her own life in human communities. Such society doesn’t have a class of rulers. Let us remind the words of the United States Declaration of Independence: "…all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Let us treat “freedom” and “liberty” as the same meanings.
So what is morality, and what it means to be a moral person? Morality is a try to identify what our thoughts and actions are bad and what are good. However, to create our understanding of morality, we should define what is “good” first. What does it mean to be good? A lot of things we find to be good. However, a list of things that we personally considered being good doesn't help us to understand what it means to be good or what morality is. Let us think about a person that is considered being good. Is there a possibility that other people think differently? Yes, there is. Thus, moral is always subjective. Of course, there are a number of rules and statements that are considered being fundamental moral principles. But how and when they had become fundamental? Some time ago a group of people agreed to consider these principles fundamental. What if the second group will pick other principles? Without being recorded, morality is a number of subjective ideas about how people should behave.
What is the relation between liberty and morality within a society? Let us imagine a society where the majority of people use moral is their decisions. What would be the main operative moral principle for such society? What would be considered immoral? What views would that society have on gay rights, the issue of assisted suicide, etc? It would all be whether right or wrong. Thus, would not it be a violation in relation to those people who appeared on the “wrong” side? Yes, it would.
To summarize, there is always a tension between liberty and morality since liberty is protected by recorded number of laws. According to them, every person has a right to manage his/her on a basis of personal choice. Morality, in its turn, is a set of principles that are based on subjective understanding what is right and what is wrong. Liberty and morality act in different fields. Liberty acts in the field of law, and morality in the field of human relations. Thus, there is and always will be a tension between them.
Is there a tension between liberty and patriotism?
A blind devotion to the state was not that thing that the US culture was founded on. Actually, it was founded on quite other values. The US patriots struggled against the UK did on the grounds of a free market, inalienable human rights, and liberty. They recognized that rights came from our humanity, not from the state. Free markets create lasting and strong economies and freedom means to participate in policy of the government. Those people promoted and argued from a basis of liberty and freedom. They were loyal to the ideas of a free society. It was not connected with the land or government. In the 19th century the meanings of nationalism and patriotism blended. After WW II and Vietnam, the foreign policy of the US became permanently militarized. Some time ago, patriotism meant to have the courage and willingness to challenge the policy of the government. Nowadays, the meaning of patriotism comes closer to the person who shows blind support for the government policy. Thus, the issue is there a tension between liberty and patriotism has been called into question.
What is patriotism? According to Fox, patriotism “involves citizens displaying devotion to their country, including devotion to the fundamental values and principles upon which it depends…” Is it the feeling of love to the place of your birth, the house of hopes and recollections from your childhood, the place of aspirations and dreams? In brief, being a patriot means to love your homeland? Patriotism may be a good thing since it holds people together. It limits the prospect of hate for one another, civil wars, and creates stability. However, at the same time, it becomes the reason of different mindsets like "I`m better than you are". Often, one nation tries to force its ideals considering them being right, without understanding the will or culture of other. It may repress some domestic issues, but, at the same time, it may lead to the conflict between nations. Moreover, a sense of patriotism may encourage consumers to live beyond their needs. In the long run, it will create an environment where this view will be destructive.
Also, patriotism is the matter of achievements. It involves pride and endorsement of your country. Parents want their children to be proud of their achievements and vice versa. However, it would be a moral crime if children would take credit for their parents’ achievements or vice versa. Similarly, it works in relation to the country. Thus, patriotism also means all the achievements of your countrymen. If a patriot loves his/her country, his/her should consider its achievements and beliefs including an unbiased examination of present and past of the country.
As it was said before, the main idea of liberty that every person has a right to manage his/her own life in his/her own way. Patriotism means a devotion to a particular way of life and a particular place, which a person considers to be the best but has no aim to force convince anyone. In its nature, patriotism is fundamental to liberty. It is not attacking, defensive, both in economic and militarily meanings. Patriotism is self-determination on the nation, and is the basis of national independence since it means you are ready to defend your country if necessary.
To summarize, patriotism is a fundamental part of liberty. Patriotism unites people and holds them together. Therefore, there is no tension between liberty and patriotism. During the last centuries, the meaning of patriotism has been changed. Patriotism is rather a meaningful choice of a free individual who loves his/her homeland, sincerely wishes its prosperity, and it ready to protect it if necessary. That is why patriotism is always defensive in its nature.