Decisions for Other People

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I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that we don’t get to make decisions for other people. And that this is how it’s supposed to be.

“But those other people are stupid! They don’t know what they’re doing! They’ll be trouble for us all!” I hear you cry.

Maybe so. We can surely find many examples of people acting with stupidity and recklessness.

Can we please first make sure those people aren’t us, though?

Here’s the thing that’s so easy to forget but so critical to the whole equation:
to those other people, WE are the others

In other words, if we say that we get to make decisions for other people, then we are implicitly saying that they get to make decisions for us. “You’re not the boss of me” only works if we don’t pretend to be the boss of them either.

Either that or we’re saying other people don’t deserve the freedom to make their own choices and that we know what is best for them and will ignore and subvert their expressions of free will. Is that really what you want? To me it sounds even worse.

The good news here is the realization that we really do get to make decisions for ourselves most of the time. We don’t get to get our way for our the entire community, but we do usually get to get our way on a much smaller scale — for ourselves.

True, the world doesn’t always give us all the liberty we want. If I don’t want to be spied on or don’t want to pay taxes or don’t want to die, at some point I’m outta luck. But with work, I can reduce and obscure or potentially eliminate surveillance on my activities, I can legally reduce my tax burden to near zero, and I can make choices that are likely to extend my natural life rather than shorten it.

I don’t get to decide who is President. But that’s a good thing, because if I did then you could decide all on your own too. And your choice might be different from mine. As it happens, I did cast my vote (as I do every chance I get), and now I don’t get to have any more say on the matter.

I’m okay with that. Because the alternative is even worse.

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