Free to be you and the responsibility that comes with it

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 27, 2022, 10:30 AM | comments: 0

I absolutely loved season 2 of Bridgerton, and not just because I'm totally infatuated with the actress that played Kate Sharma. (I mean, how many people can make a period costume top hat look good?) The entire season was about being locked into roles and expectations that society has placed on you, most of which are arbitrary and a matter of circumstance around gender, wealth and other attributes that you did not choose. It probably seems a little weird to feel sorry for British aristocrats in whatever time period this sort of takes place in, sort of because they've eliminated racism if not misogyny, but the restrictions on women in particular are just as tight as those corsets.

The flip side of this is a number of story arcs that focus on the responsibilities one has with certain power or freedom to mostly conduct themselves as they please. There are always consequences to this, and a number of characters feel the pain of the choices they make.

These two phenomena are tightly coupled and obviously very topical today. People desperately want to be who they are, with a range of identity issues involving race, gender, sexual identity and neurodiversity. There's also a reckoning in progress about what people do with their power in the universe. You don't have to stretch your brain to figure out what demographics fit into these groups, certainly, but the moral implications should be obvious. I say "should be" because they're clearly not for some folks.

The ability to be your true authentic self is deeply fundamental to your happiness. There has been a strong effort in the last few years to deny people the ability to be who they are, in part by legislating ways that deny them basic human dignity and empower the hateful to discriminate against them. Ultimately, the thing that must be consistent about being yourself and exercising your power is that these must not harm others.

In other words, we're really talking about basic human respect. Being gay (or trans, or Black or any of the groups being marginalized) does not harm others. The only agenda any of these groups has is to be themselves and be equal. No harm comes from that. Being wealthy and having power is also not inherently bad unless those people wield that power in a way that is harmful to others. (Sidebar: That's why I don't care for the tirade against the rich, despite my otherwise socially liberal views.)

So if I'm to distill all of this into a few words, it's simply, "Be yourself, and do no harm to others." A world where we can all live by that sentiment is the one that I want.


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