Misunderstood Right to Freedom
The truth will set you free. But not before it's finished with you.
-- David Foster Wallace
Some Wrong Definitions
Right after the concepts of love and happiness freedom must have been one of the most talked about themes among scholars, armchair philosophers and everyone in between.
After we would rightfully expect some satisfactory answers with so much pondering upon it, nothing of the sort has come up---at least in my opinion, and this article is exclusively gravitating around my own impressions about this subject of freedom.
As we are about to see, some uses of the word may even be bordering with ridiculous. It's something that easily happens in this age of a pronounced emotionalism when emotions seem to be stealing the show from reason.
The word "freedom" has become a symbol of a justification for a massive immaturity and impulsiveness. I have written about this in some more detail in another of my articles, but here it's worth repeating it.
Another pathetic notion about freedom is about our governments somehow giving us this "gift" of enjoying so many rights. We even invented this expression of a "free world", using that unfree part of the world for some kind of a standard of comparison, as if measuring our freedom with their lack of it.
Which reminds a dude like myself---with a knack for out-of-the-box thinking--- of a joke, in which man comes home from woods and all excited reports to his family how a "poisonous snake just saved his life". Asked "how", he says: "It didn't bite me".
Indeed, we are giving our governments this credit for not enslaving us---which in itself might be a theme with a few big question marks hanging around and looking tough.
Is there any point in public debate in a society where hardly anybody has been taught HOW to think, while millions have been taught WHAT to think?
-- Peter Hitchens
No One's Permission Needed to Feel Free
The fact of the matter is that we were free no matter what, and we never needed a clause in our Constitution pronouncing us free. Those in power would never get to that position without our free vote, right? So what's the big deal about it, as we don't need anyone's permission to feel free?
Those of so called unfree world are equally duped into this believing that freedom comes from "somewhere above"---or at least their definition of it. They keep forgetting they are "many" and those in power are "few".
But then there is a catch there to be understood. Being "many" doesn't suggest using that multitude for kicking the asses of those "few"---although that is possible. Revolutions never worked, as the history is attesting to it. For the simple reason that people are only people, and those top carriers of the revolution, once in power, start acting just as despotically as their political predecessors did.
In the "free world" the tactics of intimidation are different, and they are based on two main tools: separation by a party system which weakens the unity of people---while smartly looking like one of the main symbols of freedom.
Namely, even a superficial look will tell you that you are always voting for a party that will do nothing substantial for you, the little guy---no matter which party it is.
And then there is that second tool, which has always been highly effective---otherwise it wouldn't have been used over and over again---a constant presence of an invented "potential enemy", which keeps the sheep clinging to the protection of the Big Daddy the government and forgiving much, just to save their asses from that outside boogie-man.
Most people grow old, but not everybody grows up.
-- Nishan Panwar
Next, there is this equally---if not more insane notion about freedom meaning our government's catering to our massive whimsical immaturity.
Being free is not based upon the ever popular and gaining in popularity slogan of "anything goes". Body of a nation could easily be compared to body of an individual, when freedom is in question. Just like we don't run our lives on "anything goes" rule---even without having to apply brakes on our spontaneous negative tendencies---so it's crazy to assume that the whole nation could coexist with that rule.
The old saying of "left hand not knowing what the right one is doing" perfectly applies to what I am saying here. Just imagine for a moment giving both of your hands a freedom to act on their own, and then, as you have decided to tie your shoes, left hand chooses to pick the nose, and the right one to scratch the ass, and so the shoes stay untied.
Long live the freedom! Now, I am not smart enough to play a conspiracy theorist to talk about some "sinister forces" with an agenda to weaken the spirit of nation by making "left" and "right" hands work outta whack.
It doesn't only work on political and social level in such a destructive way, but also on personal. Remember, most of the folks tend to surrender their personal identity to the collective one, and when this one means a divide, confusion takes over.
"Anything goes" mentality turns into a cynical irresponsibility and an aversion towards just about anything that comes from the mouth of the leader. These days being a guest of a family with a cute 2-year old girl with exceptionally yappy disposition, I had an opportunity to see how this rebellious tendency works on a very basic human level.
She calls her grandma "nana", and as she keeps playing simultaneously with a few groups of toys in her "free" momentum of playfulness, every little while she says: "No, nana...no nana...", as if expecting nana to tell her "don't".
The sugar coating to it happened the other day when she got repeatedly told not to play with sliding doors---and then she said: "Nana go upstairs". She wanted the authority to disappear, so that she could do "freely" what she wanted.
The world is being run by irresponsible spoiled brats.
-- P.J. O'Rourke
"Anything Goes" Version
In many countries of this "free world" this cultural cynicism towards the establishment has been picking up a new momentum. In the world of music this "anything goes" attitude got crowned by something like rap---which is not really "music" at all, but a tuneless rhythmic recital.
As if for an extra spice of rebelliousness all kinds of profanities may be infused into lyrics of this "art".
Now, this has nothing to do with "tastes" but with a lack of one, as anyone with a basic respect for musical expression would readily agree. Freedom doesn't mean emotional anarchy, while it seems to be exactly that in more than one of its popular displays.
Finally, what is "freedom"?
In my view, freedom is this cultivated ability to use our own minds, free from the suggestive influences of culture market---while producing mental and emotional constructs which benefit both the individual and the collective life on this planet.
It is also freedom from our own tendencies towards a slavery to our lower models of functioning which I like calling animalistic, because animals are known to be ruled by instincts of territoriality, aggression, greed, and envy.
Not to forget mentioning the freedom from neurotic living in the past and playing the victim card for the traumas of the past generations. While slavery to someone physically stronger could even be understood---although not condoned---slavery to our own imaginary victimhood is something to look for in the pages of psycho-pathology textbooks.
Before you call yourself a Christian, Buddhist, Moslem, Hindu, or any other theology, learn to be human first.
-- Shannon L. Adler
Not a Freedom from Values
Within the preceding paragraphs I tried to express my views about the true meaning of freedom, by mostly focusing on what freedom is not. Little is left to be said except that in our western culture freedom tends to be based upon our pronounced spoiled mentality.
Spoiled kids are not happy kids, and kids with too many toys quickly start depreciating every single one of them. That creates an emotional vacuum which we wrongly call freedom. Again, an absence of oppression is not automatically freedom, and we might as well snap out of that illusion.
In our impulsive exploring of sensual, artistic, social, and political freedoms, we are not even noticing how we are also becoming "free" from values. And I mean values that are that precious glue giving our coexistence a special status among herding of living creatures on this planet.
For ultimately, we can only survive as species by honoring our "freedom to advance"---not a "freedom to stagnate".
Let's choose the right one, shall we.
© 2017 Val Karas