I recently read a blog post titled 'Freedom from Choice' from the Red Sweater Blog (a blog by Daniel Jalkut, a Mac programmer) with great interest, considering the subject matter (Steve Jobs, computing, and free/open source software). In the post, Daniel speaks about how Steve Jobs' decisions to restrict certain 'freedoms' on the iOS and Mac platforms has helped Macs, iPhones, and iPads become more focused and consumer-friendly devices.
The reason for this is that the user no longer has to worry about making a thousand decisions to accomplish a simple task.
Daniel said that Richard Stallman, a staunch 'everything must be free' software programer, "paints Jobs as a robber of freedoms, first and foremost, while neglecting to acknowledge the many liberties he brought, for example to those of us who can’t, or don’t want to build our own computing infrastructures."
This is readily apparent and admitted by those in the computing world who realize that giving people a command line/terminal and telling them to go to town is a very bad idea. Most people I know would (and do) quickly ruin their computers because of the level of control they have over them. How many people do you know have laptops that are always locking up, shutting down, or messing up due to software people installed on them, additions people made, or simply the little things people have done to their computers for the sake of making them 'their own'. (It's the same with many Android phones, in my experience...).
Is it not the same in our personal lives, in the realm of morals and faith? Everyone subscribes to some moral system or faith/religion (whether it's formalized or not), and some people (like me) choose to belong to a faith (Catholicism) which helps us make the decisions that will help us be better humans, free of the 'malware' and ailments that eat at our souls and self-images.
A lot of people don't believe this, but take the example of abortion: With the option of abortion on demand, women in desperate situations seem to have two options:
- Have an abortion to solve the problem of an unwanted pregnancy.
- Struggle through a nine-month, inconvenient pregnancy, and either give the baby up for adoption or struggle through raising a child, and generally live a more difficult life*.
Many people would choose number 1... it gets rid of the problem, right? However, if you're Catholic, and you realize that there is no option 1 (the ends don't justify the means), you begin to open your eyes to the additional possiblities that result from choosing life:
- You could learn to make ends meet, and become a better person by dealing with the situation and raising a child as well as you can.
- You could give a great gift to a family hoping and praying for a child by offering your baby for adoption.
- You could learn about the miracle of life developing inside the womb, and cherish that life, and increase the amount of love in your world by sharing yourself with the new life through love and nurturing.
Often, restricting your 'choices' leads to new and unforseen freedoms; on my iPad, I'm free to spend more time reading articles and news, and interacting with people, since I can't give into the temptation of constantly configuring inane system settings or managing 25 open applications like I do on my Mac. In my life, I can spend more time loving my wife and building our relationship (instead of harboring bad feelings or feeling remorse), even when it's tough to do so, because I know that divorce is not a choice.
When you give up the idea of freedom to do any possible thing, you free yourself to make easier—and better—choices.
*To every man in the world: if you're going to have a sexual relationship with a woman, deal with the consequences like a man. It's your duty to love and nurture that child, not to abandon the mother and child. Real men don't ignore the consequences of their actions. (This, ironically, is another reason why the Church wants people to wait until marriage to have a sexual relationship... it helps keep people honest, at a minimum!).