Ask someone, “Who owns you?” and you’ll likely get a look of puzzlement or mild offense for suggesting the possibility they might be owned. Many African American’s would surely find the question deeply insulting and hurtful. Still, if you are brave or foolish enough to persist, most people will probably tell you nobody owns me. Fortunately, that is untrue. The truth, so obvious it is often overlooked, is that we each own ourselves. So savor that thought for a moment because things are about to get a bit more complicated.
Somewhere long in the past humans reached a consensus that especially grievous behavior would be prohibited. Murder, cannibalism, rape, robbery, arson and such became taboo and punishments worth avoiding were established to deter them. As a group we exchanged the freedom to do terrible things for the expectation they would not be done to us. We still owned ourselves but had attached a few strings to our behavior.
Since the day mankind first agreed, “Thou shalt not kill” those few, basic rules have morphed into an endless maze of federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations. They prohibit, mandate, limit, tax, license, charge, monitor, study, surveille, screen, fine, organize, credit, subsidize, incentivize, revoke, grant, seize, reward or penalize virtually every aspect of one’s public and increasingly, private life.
This returns us to the original question, “Who owns you?” Well, you do own yourself but just how free are you to live as you choose and exert freedom over your destiny? You’ll have to answer that for yourself. I’ll just suggest that to the extent government adds conditions on one’s life your self-ownership is reduced correspondingly.
The government impacts everyone, certainly not just people of size. Some tasks such as assuring clean drinking water, putting out fires or repelling an invading army are things most people consider necessary. But when government intrudes into the most personal matters such as what one eats, or weighs, or their BMI, or their lifestyle or wellness choices – the principles of personal rights and owning yourself are deeply eroded.
Instances of government intrusion or targeting people of size will warrant their own discussions. My goal today was to help you answer just one question. Who owns you?