by Gary Z McGeeStaff Writer Waking Times

“Absolute freedom mocks justice. Absolute justice denies freedom. To be fruitful, the two ideas must find their limits in each other.” ~Albert Camus, The Rebel

Standing on the shoulder of the philosophical giant Albert Camus in order to see further is no easy task. But we’re going to attempt it anyway through use of metaphor, analogy and a story.

Setting the stage:

“There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with people. Given a story to enact that puts them in accord with the world, they will live in accord with the world. But given a story to enact that puts them at odds with the world, as ours does, they will live at odds with the world.” ~Daniel Quinn

Imagine you and your partner are on a deserted island. You’ve not only been surviving but thriving. You are happy and healthy. Life is good. Then one day two more partners arrive. You figure: people are free. Nobody owns the island (the tragedy of the commons is for another article). I have no reason to hinder these people from traveling where they wish as long as they don’t try to hinder me or my partner. So, you cooperate. You get to know each other. Your group of four members gets along well and things actually get easier. You’re thriving even more than you were before. Life is good.

A week later two more people arrive. Then two more the week after that. Before you know it, you have a small tribe of 24 people who all get along with only the occasional bickering and misunderstanding. You are a thriving community. Life is good.

Then one day two new people show up on the island brandishing weapons and declaring the island their own. They try to use fear and the threat of violence to gain control of the tribe. And they declare from that point on that if anybody else shows up they will be killed on sight out of fear that they would destroy the tribe or the island. They also demand that each partnership gives them ten percent of their wealth in return for their “leadership” and for keeping the island safe.

Here is the critical crux, the precarious crossroads, where an important decision must be made. What do you do? Do you give in, thinking: Everyone is free to do what they want, including these two men. They are free to use violence to force the tribe under their control. Might makes right, and they have all the might. Who am I to question their authority?

Or, do you resist, thinking: everyone is free to do what they want up until the point that they become violent towards others. Otherwise, there is no justice. I must not only question their authority but defend what I love against it.

Absolute freedom mocks justice (scenario 1):

“When there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence.” ~Gandhi

Luckily, you have training. You were a Navy SEAL before your travels. So, you are able to defend the island tribe against the would-be violent extremists. You’re forced to use violence, sure, but only in self-defense and in defense of the health of the tribe. And you only use the proper amount of violence for the occasion.

You are able to subdue the violent extremists without having to kill either of them. But you know that, had the circumstance been kill or be killed, or kill or allow the tribe to be ruled by violent extremists, you would have had to kill them. You are peaceful up until the point that you are forced into having no other choice to defend what you love with violence. Their freedom to brandish their weapons ended when they used those weapons in an attempt to hinder your freedom. Thus, allowing them absolute freedom to be violent would have made a mockery of justice.

So. You give them a choice. Either they leave on their own account or they remain and choose to be non-violent against the otherwise peaceful tribe. Any further acts of violence will either result in death or imprisonment. Your courage-based lifestyle prevents you from worrying if they will come back with an armada or not. You refuse to live a fear-based lifestyle. The world is a dangerous place. So be it. You take danger as it comes. Your conscience is clear as long as you don’t harm anyone (outside of self-defense) and as long as you live a courage-based life despite the fear, violence, and cowardice of others…


About the Author
Gary ‘Z’ McGeea former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.
This article (The Paradox of Freedom and Justice) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.
F. Kaskais Web Guru


  1. This same scenario can be seen in several episodes of (the tv show) Gilligan’s Island
    ***sure, the castaways always wanted to get back to civilization, but let’s not get into that***
    People eventually come and try to change things… it’s a sad sad world.


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