So All Might Be Free
The Wise Understand Some Sacrifice Means Freedom For All
by Eric Elkin
The current debate regarding internet free speech began with a few dozen mothers protesting outside Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, CA. At least this was the opinion of Radiolab, a podcast produced by WNYC radio. The mothers gathered to express their frustration with Facebook’s decision to block images of breastfeeding on the grounds it was pornographic material.
The women had no idea they would launch a global movement. With 2.2 billion users, Facebook became the focal point of a global question, what can or cannot be posted, said, or shown on the internet? And, who determines it?
In response to the breastfeeding protest, Facebook created a single rulebook. The rulebook was a digital guide to determine appropriate material across a wide variety of national and cultural norms. To enforce the rules, Facebook hired a network of employees to monitor all social media posts. The employees' sole responsibility was to decide what was and was not appropriate material.
Listening to the podcast, I never realized the complexity of creating simple guidelines. Basically, the larger the community impacted, the more complicated rules became to determine. Regulations are open to interpretation. Interpretation can vary in ways that escape the thoughts of rational people.
The show is worth listening to, although, I recommend it with a warning. One of the things the reporters learned was the absolute depravity of human beings. Not just how disturbed people can be, but to what degree and how frequently.
Employees interviewed anonymously talked about the emotional impact of their job. The offensive material was so disturbing, and pervasive, it had a lasting impact. The constant exposure to the worst side of humanity left them with significant emotional wounds. So much so, Facebook is now trying to automate the process.
The show reminded me of the problem with pure freedom. Freedom without any consideration of the impact on our neighbors can be very destructive. Determining freedom is currently being debated in the United States on a variety of levels. When does personal freedom threaten the health of the community; and when do community rules threaten personal freedom?
Many modern readers cringe when they read about God’s law. Too often, the interpretation of rules is manipulated for selfish reasons. I Invite you to listen differently to these words. Laws should not be about power and control, but life.
Individuals need to sacrifice some level of freedom so all in the community might be free. The wise understand this and work so all might have abundant life.
- When have you sacrificed freedom for the benefit of others?
- Where in your life do you long to experience freedom?
- How can laws hinder freedom?
- Where can laws give abundant life?