The quickest way to become free is to become homeless. Give up all of your material connections, your relationships, your commitments. Live moment to moment, with no ties to the past, no attachments to the future, no responsibilities in the present.
That may seem extreme, but it’s also extreme how words get thrown around these days with emotional charge attached. The result, and I would assert the purpose, is getting people stirred up for and against. “Freedom” is one of those words used to get people charged up.I did a quick Google search for the actual definition:
noun 1. the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
The first part seems logical. Everyone would want the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants.
Now consider the second part: “without hindrance or restraint.” I’m hindered by the responsibilities I have, I’m hindered by relationships, I’m hindered by the bills for car, my home, my phone, and many other aspects of my life.
I remember a feeling of being without hindrance or restraint when I moved to Sydney Australia from Austin TX. What struck me profoundly was having no keys. Keys represented the attachment to those things of my life in Austin. My car, my house, and all my possessions. There was a definite sense of freedom, of leaving behind everything I knew and creating a new life, a new identity. It was exhilarating, but also a bit alarming.
In an absolute sense you do have the freedom to do whatever you want. But the hindrances and restraints agreed to by the majority of our society mean there will be consequences, repurcussions. I’m hindered from killing someone by the threat of repercussions. OK, I’m also a decent person and wouldn’t want to do that anyway. But those hindrances and restraints are a good thing.
I would assert that Choice is the key word. We are part of a society made up of multiple viewpoints. If you absolutely want freedom, you could choose to move where you aren’t connected to any other person. If you are part of a society, you are choosing to be subject to the choices and consequences based on the collective agreements of the society. You are also part of defining those collective agreements.
Which brings us to the second definition of freedom:
noun 2. absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government. That prompted me to look up despot: a ruler or other person who holds absolute power, typically one who exercises it in a cruel or oppressive way.
As long as we continue to embrace the structures of our democracy and the checks and balances it is based on, we should be OK. It’s the attempts to destroy those systems that are a threat to our freedoms. It’s the danger of giving up our responsibility to one person that threatens our society.
What terms and what emotional charge do you latch onto? Does it make you feel angry, depressed and fearful, or does it make you feel loving, happy and trusting? You have the freedom to choose. WE have the freedom to create it together.