by Jon Sanders
Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
Joe Coletti’s piece in Carolina Journal opens with an important point: “The undercounted cost of the COVID pandemic is in the lives lost to despair, addiction, suicide, and other illnesses.” These are made worse by “the lack of human contact,” either by personal choice or worse, by government orders.
Coletti highlights the need for those of us on the side of free markets to remember there’s more to life than market freedoms:
Ensuring free and competitive domestic markets is part of a package of protections ensuring broader freedoms—of thought, of action, and of association. These nonmarket freedoms are what make life worth living. Love and friendship, obligations and gifts, joy and pain all exist apart from markets and government, though they exist more where markets have more sway because government is more limited. Something we don’t emphasize nearly enough is that we advocate for markets, liberty, and freedom because they are markers of a healthy society where people can live with dignity, meaning, and purpose. When young people do not have rich interactions with peers and adults, they get lost.
I think we at JLF have done a good job in emphasizing the freedoms that “make life worth living.” Our mission statement shows we know the reason we advocate individual liberty and limited, constitutional government is to yield “a better balance between the public sector and private institutions of family, faith, community, and enterprise.”
Especially because politics tends toward division, it’s best to keep it a small part of life so that we can enjoy richer interactions with more people in our communities. Limited government that respects individual rights and freedoms necessarily keeps politics at a lower boil so that every election doesn’t seem matters of life and death pitting good vs. evil.
We should not only remember, but cherish the many things in life above politics:
As Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” And there we find family, friends, food, music and the arts, sports, and so on, and yes, even politicians and political accomplishments, but none to the detriment of the rest.
Breaking bread together with family and friends is one of the best things in life. Doing so at Thanksgiving, in the true spirit of communally expressing thanks to God, is even more beautiful and worth holding on to.