To say the rights and dignity of a human are inalienable isn't to say they're invulnerable. They are tremendously vulnerable. We all lose our dignity, and some are unfortunate to lose it before they lose their lives. Dead men only have the rights survivors allow. This is not the arena of iron-clad birthright. Freedom is delicate.

But we are born free, truly. Born into a family, hopefully, and ideally a community, even if it starts with just two people. Because the love of another, freely given, is needed for freedom, I think. Because in the wilds of the human spirit, you need people who have your back to make it anywhere.

Humans aren't fit for cages. We don't fit in chains, they don't make any sense. Even when we lose our freedom, it is never alien to us. A path set by our own responsibilities and ambitions is our home turf, where we are meant to live and are most comfortable.

America isn't quite the country it used to be, when it comes to this understanding of freedom. But Americans understand it now, still, more than anywhere else I've been or heard of. And when I worry about the future of the American government, this is what I worry about. A nation who has become a bit more normal, a bit more willing to lose a minuscule freedom for a tangible benefit, losing the legal heritage that puts the bounds on those impulses. Those bounds have gotten quite weak in the last century, and people don't seem so captured by the idea of freedom as they used to be.

It's an idea with fewer and fewer champions. Maybe only a few percent are left? It's hard to tell.

I might vote for a politician (for this is the source of the problems, to be sure) whose slogan was "leave me alone, I'm with my family".