“I just don’t want to be limited by anything.”

This may well be the mantra of our age. It describes our attitude towards everything from food to television, children to transportation. (In fact, the direct quote above came from a recent episode of This Week in Tech during a conversation about bandwidth caps.) It is a message reinforced by the television we watch, the magazines we read and the ads that appear in both: get more, eat more, exercise more, have more fun. More. More.

What this attitude fails to realize, of course, is that we are finite beings. Despite what we are told in ads, we cannot “have it all” — and even if we could, how would we find the time or energy to enjoy it all? Imagine how difficult it would be to keep track of it. (To say nothing about the taxes!)

We have perverted free will — and our language to describe it — to such an extent that we put bandwidth caps and children in the same category as obstacles to our freedom. This is a gross failure to make some fundamental distinctions about authentic happiness and freedom, and one need only look at our culture to see that we are the poorer for it.