Liberty and Equity
“Liberty is not liberty when it functions at the expense of equity.”
Liberty is not liberty when it functions at the expense of equity. This is the basic premise of my research.
My field is ethics with a specific focus on how religion and equity interact with individuals and society. Considering the volatility of our current political climate, it seems clear that I have a great deal of work ahead of me. The more I learn about the basis for the ideas and principles on which the framers of the Constitution were working (albeit in within the context of their highly limited world views), the more I recognize how true this statement must be in order for our democratic republic to function properly.
The religiously conservative direction our national abortion policy has now convulsed is one example of a direct contradiction to this spirit. The contradictions will only continue to grow and be normalized if we allow sectarian doctrine framed as “Religious Liberty” to work against gender and sexuality rights as well. This strategy of weaponizing individual liberty against shared equity is also evident when examining policies related to policing, gun rights and health care. There must be a better working analysis that resists pitting “conservative” against “progressive” and instead works for a sustainable equilibrium between differing concepts of what individuals need to feel safe and whole.
‘Liberty cannot function at the expense of equity’ is also the basic principle behind why I believe the former President must be held to account. Whether or not you agree with his policies, like him or dislike him, a rational society must recognize that his individual liberty, while it needs to be respected, cannot be weaponized as a political tool. Neither can his liberty be accessed as an opportunistic platform nor can it elevate him above the same standards to which the rest of our society of order is held. I’m not the first person to point out that justice is equity in action and that individual liberty cannot be used as an exemption or a literal “get out of jail free” card. This nation’s history of slavery, native erasure and other sometimes violent marginalization reminds us that liberty as a tool of oppression and privilege is the worst kind of perversion of the principles on which the United States was formed.
Our challenge in the United States, in our time of fractured politics and dysfunctional government is to remember that our commitments to precious individual liberties must be held within our commitments to enriching community equities. Without this balance, the American experiment will always fail.