Liberty and social order have a reciprocating nature with each other. At times of chaos, governments tend to try to restore peace and order by any means necessary, usually by power. On the other hand, at times of tranquility, there is a wholesome significance of freedom. It is the state’s responsibility to protect and serve the people. Usually after a catastrophic event, such as a mass murder at an airport, the government should step in and restore order in this situation, but how far will it go? Should there be more laws and regulations – thus limiting everyone’s freedom in any shape or form – or should the government not intervene at all? If a nation does happen to fall into a situation like this, it should neither take full control nor let it take over by itself; however, it should take it into moderation in order to maintain both liberty and social order.
After a tragic event, people should expect their government to take some action, but there are many beliefs on how their government should operate. Henry David Thoreau in “Civil Obedience” believes that people can control themselves, “government is best which governs least” (305). A government that governs least is not an ideal state, mainly because of the unstable, such as mentally ill people. What Thoreau is explaining is that all people have discipline, which is not entirely true. He does not hold into account the unstable, mentally ill people with no one to stop them who have no self-control; nonetheless, to leave them to manage themselves is the equivalent of releasing wild animals free, which will then give destructive results. Therefore, the state shall be a safety net if anything becomes chaotic.
Another reason government should take liberty and social order into moderation – because of this disorder – is how it originates, which is desire and greed. Lao-Tzu, like Thoreau, believed that a government body should not be repressive, but he also includes a political philosophy that all of the problems in a government emerge from desire. As Lao-Tzu said in “Thoughts from the Tao-te Ching”, “If you overvalue possessions, people begin to steal” (211), additional problems begin to arise, such as stealing and other types of complications. This leads to the ruin to the state. He also argued that trying to rule with an iron fist is futile by saying, “The Master does his job and then stops. He understands that the universe is forever out of control and that trying to dominate events goes against the current of the Tao” (207). What he is suggesting is if we do not overvalue materials anymore, everything will restore to order as Lao-Tzu explains that the Tao, or “the way,” by itself. In addition, while the order restores itself, the state should have fewer problems to figure out.
While it may be that the government should do its best to keep order under restraint, it may not be the case. It could be the people who are willing to give up some personal liberties for security. James L. Gibson,...