The Politics of Freedom: Taking on the Left, the Right, and Threats to Our Liberties

By David Boaz | Go to book overview

Pro-Life

Back in 1997 I wrote an editorial, titled “Pro-Choice,” about conservatives and liberals who want to deny people choice in all sorts of areas. So I thought it was time I wrote a “pro-life” editorial. This time I want to focus on one of the most important choices: the choice of life over death. (And once again, I'm not writing about abortion.) Not much controversy here, right? Everyone prefers life to death. Everyone wants to live as long as possible. You'd think so. But no, it turns out that lots of people are not so sure that life is a good thing.

The most obvious are Osama bin Laden and his network of terrorists. Islamic martyrs “love death as you love life,” bin Laden tells an interviewer. “The Americans are fighting so they can live and enjoy the material things in this life,” a Taliban spokesman says, “but we are fighting so we can die in the cause of Allah.” In a video for his followers, bin Laden intones, “The love of this world is wrong.”

And there he reaches the crux of the issue. He is wrong. This world is well worth loving. It is right and good for human beings to try to make the most of life on this earth. The Americans are indeed “fighting so they can live and enjoy the material things of this life.” Not just material things, of course—we fight for such values as love, sex, family, friendship, community, integrity, and courage. But at the root of all these is the love of life in all its wonder and happiness.

One of the biggest complaints modern Americans have about life is how stressed they feel, how they are pulled in so many directions. Why are we stressed? Not because we have to work longer hours than we used to. Whatever the statisticians may tell us about the hours we work, we know that our grandparents and their grandparents worked harder than we do to achieve a much lower standard of living. How many hours a week would I have to work at their jobs, and in their economy, to afford a small house without air conditioning, radio, television, or a refrigerator? No, the problem today is that capitalism has given us so many options; but who would want to give up all that abundance?

-5-

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