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Festival of Freedom and Order

Passover, the festival of freedom, traditionally opens with the seder (or "order"), a family meal organized around a prescribed series of readings and rituals.

It feels a little odd to celebrate freedom with order. While not opposites, freedom and order live in uneasy tension. Every freedom fighter attacks an established order. And every imposition of order limits freedom. This is true not only in politics but also, as the attached clips show, in intergenerational and domestic conflicts closer to home.

Isaiah Berlin argued that the tension between freedom and order cannot ultimately be resolved, only managed. I think he was right. The best we can do is to create social structures that allow people to express their individuality, while protecting the ability of others to express their individuality, too.

In the words of J.S. Mill

It is not by wearing down into uniformity all that is individual in themselves, but by cultivating it and calling it forth, within the limits imposed by the rights and interests of others, that human beings become a noble and beautiful object of contemplation.

May this Passover be an opportunity to re-calibrate the balance between order and freedom, and to create spaces with just enough order for individuality to thrive.

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