An ancient conversation between Anthropos and Bios, two friends who like to have conversations over a good meal.
ANTHROPOS: This lamb is wonderful.
BIOS: I’m so glad you like it.
ANTHROPOS: Yes, now you were saying – something about your life.
BIOS: Of course, I was wondering about how you live yours. What is your philosophy of life.
ANTHROPOS: I try to live as best I can. I try not to hurt other people as much as possible, I enjoy myself. I believe in ultimate freedom.
BIOS: What do you mean by ultimate freedom?
ANTHROPOS: Ultimate Freedom, of course. I feel that everyone has a right to be exactly as they wish to be. We are all made a certain way and no other person has the right to impose any sort of unchosen life on us.
BIOS: So each person is a free agent, of sovereign will, who should be whatever they wish to be.
ANTHROPOS: Exactly – the destiny of the individual belongs to the individual. We are who we are.
BIOS: I see. I have a nephew who is now 6 years old. Would you allow me to apply your wonderful idea to his life?
ANTHROPOS: Certainly. How odd though.
BIOS: Indulge me like with your wonderful lamb.
ANTHROPOS: Of course. (Laughs)
BIOS: My nephew is a wonderful child. He just began being tutored and has shown a great desire to learn. His curiosity for machinery and anything that moves such as elephants and horses, well, they fascinate him.
ANTHROPOS: He should be encouraged to become an engineer!
BIOS: Of course he should. But then there are times when he becomes quite impossible. His mood can change even while playing with him when he suddenly becomes a grump. He will no longer play, he will no longer answer questions, and his attitude towards his mother becomes rude and antagonistic.
ANTHROPOS: Well, a quick pat on the…
BIOS: (interrupting) But – you did say that humans should have Ultimate Freedom. No?
ANTHROPOS: It seems a bit silly when applied to a child.
BIOS: Then perhaps you could add an amendment to this, giving room for the wily nature of childhood.
ANTHROPOS: Yes, children are different than older people.
BIOS: Why is that?
ANTHROPOS: Well, they are still developing. Becoming…people.
BIOS: So they are exempt from the Ultimate Freedom principle.
ANTHROPOS: Children would have to be. But I hate to make that concession. Romantically I want to believe that we are all born to be who we are born to be. It feels wrong to say otherwise.
BIOS: But being true to our nature, there is a time of molding that occurs. When we look at a child, even physically, we see that we are not born complete into adulthood. Muscles have to grow, bones have to lengthen, vocal chords have to be tried for a time and the brain itself becomes larger. Certainly, there is a time of growth and molding. We are not completely born to be what we are meant to be physically.
ANTHROPOS: That is true.
BIOS: And consider the education we give our children. They do not automatically know how to do math. Nor can they automatically read. And only in the nurture of adults guiding them do we learn what they are good and not good in proficiency at. Even then we have to tell them their strengths and weaknesses, helping them to shore up and work on the weak points and to encourage them in their strengths for the purposes of self esteem.
ANTHROPOS: You are right. Up until a point, we are growing.
BIOS: And – we are not completely free. Imagine a child wandering wherever they would like. How often have you seen a child nearly hit by a wild horse in the broadways of our metropolis. If our caretakers did not enforce a simple rule, to hold an adult’s hand when standing near the streets, our news would often be much more tragic.
ANTHROPOS: Of course it would. I do see your point Bios. Children need rules and guidance to grow correctly. So I would like to amend my original statement. It was too broad.
BIOS: I see. So if I may, you would like to say something like, “If one has completely become an adult, they deserve Ultimate Freedom to be whatever and however they choose to be.”
ANTHROPOS: If, they do not harm another!
BIOS: Yes! I remember you bringing that up earlier. But like the child who needs guidance from an adult hand, isn’t that also a rule? I appreciate your desire to simplify the entire lawcode to one simple phrase, but imagine how complicated that one phrase can become. “Don’t harm another” becomes, once violated, “Do not hit your spouse in anger,” and “Do not burn your neighbor’s house down.”
ANTHROPOS: But if no one did any wrong, there would not need to be any law at all!
BIOS: But do people do wrong to one another?
ANTHROPOS: Yes they do, but it is not necessary.
BIOS: No evil is. It just exists when we do it. And laws are made as we violate what we did not previously know would harm another.
ANTHROPOS: Bios, I am stirred so much that I don’t know what to think right now. I only know that I wish to hold onto this ideal.
BIOS: Ultimate Freedom! I too desire this ideal my friend. I wish what is wrong is not to be done. But so long as people do wrong to others, there will be laws and the desire to make things right again.
ANTHROPOS: Justice in other words.
BIOS: Yes. Justice, or the seeking to make things right again. A balancing.
ANTHROPOS: True, we are always in need of better Justice.
BIOS: Let us leave it there there, and continue to enjoy this lamb while it is still warm.
ANTHROPOS: (Laughs) It really isn’t as good as you have praised it.
BIOS: But is is better than nothing at all, and I am hungry.
ANTHROPOS: Then let us eat.