The price of freedom
John Locke in his work on political philosophy, defines the “the state of nature”; as in “the state that all people are in naturally”:
“People in this state do not have to ask permission to act or depend on the will of others to arrange matters on their behalf.” - State of nature, Second Treatise: John Lock, 1689
However, the second you are born, you give a tacit consent to live in a society and enter into a “Social contract”; emphasis mine.
Social contract arguments typically posit that individuals have consented, either explicitly or tacitly, to surrender some of their freedoms and submit to the authority of the ruler or magistrate (or to the decision of a majority), in exchange for protection of their remaining rights.
With that contract you effectively trade that freedom in exchange to feel safe.
As you come into this world, your family is there to nurture you. You are fed, learn to walk, taught how to speak and in exchange you ask for permission whenever you wish to take matters in your own hands. You are slowly being conditioned on your way to integrate with society. If you happen to be lucky in the “ovarian lottery” - you will be granted access to food, water and given basic human rights such as the right to education.
As you leave the safety of your family and begin to integrate with society, you have to contribute your worth to the common welfare. It is that duty that imposes a civic virtue in order to claim your right to society; emphasis mine.
Civic virtue is the cultivation of habits and personal living that are claimed to be important for the success of community. Civic virtue is also the dedication of citizens to the common welfare of their community even at the cost of their individual interests.
It is the price of admission. The price you pay to feel safe in the community else risk ostracism.
Living in a civil society, means you now greatly depend on the will of others before you take action. While that holds true for everyone, it greatly depends on your social status.
Since by civic virtue you are dedicated to the common welfare of society and you earn your social status based on your contribution then how much individual freedom do you really have left to pursue your individual interests?
A greedy society, a society that has an appetite solely driven by its desire to maximise its welfare, puts at risk that very social contract that asks people to enter into.
“…no one knows his place in society, his class position or social status, nor does anyone know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence, strength, and the like.” - A theory of Justice: John Bordley Rawls, 1971
I am lucky to be born in Europe. I am fortunate not to be poor. I am privileged to have received higher education. I am favoured to be working in IT.
Yet, it took me 35 years to be able to buy 9 months of “some” freedom to “not have to ask permission to act or depend on the will of others to arrange matters”.
It has been hard to get here and as I look forward, being part of a greedy society that always asks for something in return is not a society that is worth having.
I don’t want to live in a society that recklessly sacrifices individual freedom, where as an individual you don’t really matter unless you always have something to offer, a society that constantly asks for something in return, that treats every human interaction as a transaction, that instills fear of losing social status. I want to live in a society that puts its faith in people and supports them to do their best. A society that contributes in the making of great people so that in itself can achieve greatness.