Thursday, August 18, 2011

Free At Last

It's not that we need new ideas, but we need to stop having old ideas.

Edwin Land
"He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." (Isaiah)
I awoke this morning with a reaction to some dream I had been having. I dont remember the dream but the feeling I had was how important freedom was to my life and to life in general.

Shortly after, I heard a meek chirping noise and again I discovered one of the very young finches inside my apartment. The poor creatures must have been in here all night, wondering where he was and where his buddies were. I opened the door and took him to it. He wasted no time accepting his freedom.

It may be that freedom is the most important motivating force of life. We begin our days by getting free of the womb. After that we face a seemingly endless parade of locks, blocks and obstructions to get through.

The paradox to life is that freedom isn't free. We pay a heavy price for it. But as Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, "No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself."

Life, for most of us, is a process of getting free of one encumbrance only to tie ourselves up with another one. Once we stop being babies, learn to walk and then to run, the world is a big adventure and we are free at last. And then "slam" the door closes and off we go to school. That form of imprisonment goes on for many years until we graduate and step out into the word, free at last. Until we get a job.

Feeling free is not the same thing as freedom. A false sense of security is more dangerous than insecurity. Back in the 40's and 50's, when I was growing up, a major ethic, in that post depression era, was to have a job. If you had a job you were secure. It was expected that you would stay at that job, working for that company the rest of your life until you retired and it was assumed that your job was secure. There was a lifetime commitment between the employer and the employee. With the rise of organized labor a man's salary, security and working conditions improved to the point where he could think about settling down to raise a family and maybe even owning a home.

It all seemed like the American Dream working itself out as the philosophers of 20th Century ideas had envisioned it. America was, after all, the land of the free. But the fact was freedom under those conditions was not attainable. An employer owned your job and therefore he owned a major part of your life. It was a false sense of security which seemed better than the desperate insecurity that had beleaguered the early 20th Century.

The 60's came and things began to unravel. Employers started replacing workers and workers started changing jobs. The work place was no longer the arena of freedom. Also, along came the skyrocketing cost of things like health care which meant that the simple job a man had was no long capable of taking care of the family he had begun. The husband's salary was not enough so the wife also had to go to work, meaning that holding the family together became an improvised affair. As the expenses and responsibilities piled up something was slowly disappearing from the mental environment. It was the sense of freedom. We were tied down to jobs, debts, family obligations and physical limitations.

We went looking for things to give us a sense of freedom. Vacations are a usual choice. Depending on a man's income he could take the family skiing in the Alps, or to a cottage on the beach or he could sit around in the living room, spending time with the kids, watching TV, resting and playing games. But wherever he went the vacation ended and he went back to the servitude of the job he never left.

He could be inventive, enterprising and manipulative, and rise in the ranks of wage earners, but whatever his specialty, profession or career he was still tethered to it.

Then came retirement when he thought he'll be free at last. But what he found was a whole new set of responsibilities and a life of commitments, because he is used to it.

The fact is that he lives his life according to theories he has inherited from the past, from his parents, teachers and society in general, hence he is bound to them. His first step toward freedom is to know that and not let those ideas control his life, as useful as some of them may be.

At some point, after all the slavery he's been through or put himself through he may realize that freedom is something that exists only in his thoughts. He's paid a heavy price for that realization, but at last he can begin to do the amazing thing of taking possession of himself. He's had the right all along to claim ownership. It doesn't matter who he works for or what he does, how big his family is or where he lives, who his friends and neighbors are or how much money he has. None of those things define him. He is a single entity, a unique idea in the vast universe of existence with total authority for being there. It took a long time, many struggles and a hefty price to find out that he has always been free.

Vagabond Journeys
Never give up.


Summer is moving along, people.

It's a long, hot, sticky summer, so here's a hot, sticky question for you.

Same sex marriage. Should it be legal or not? If so, why? If not, why not?

15 answers so far.

You have until the last day of summer, but don't dally.
I eagerly await your answer.



Arlene (AJ) said...

What a fantastic read DB, just wish the whole world could read your words you wrote. Such a deep, touching read of words.

Ally Lifewithally said...

Freedom is indeed a very precious gift ~ (for which many have died foghting for it)

Thankyou for a lovely read ~ Ally x

Big Mark 243 said...

This was one of those exemplary pieces of yours that deserves a wider audience...