Jean-Jacques Rousseau once said: “Man is born free, and yet everywhere he is in chains”. Never has such an observation been more poignant and clear.
Humanities continual struggles to be “free” from all things oppressive, manipulative and controlling shape us in ways that further encircle us in the stranglehold that is life. In other words, it seems to me that human nature cry’s out to be nurtured and cared for, while also fearing that this self-empathy will enslave them.
The pandemic has pointed out this struggle. We are told by our governments, freely elected to care for us, to wear masks, stay apart and be safe through self-regulation. We are asked to regulate ourselves, are told what needs to be done to keep us safe, and yet many of us will not carry out those needed actions, and, many of us rebel, protesting against the very government agencies that’s sole purpose is to keep us safe.
This idea of herd immunity cannot be met unless most of our fellow citizens are immunized. We are told that many of our citizens will not “fall” for this concept, a concept devised to keep us in control, as though control is an evil word. Government was created to maintain civil control, managed by our peers. Our government is not a dictatorship, but a freely elected institution, right?
We are born as free as we can be, and then seconds later we must admit that who, what and where we are, shapes this “pure freedom”.
The white child of a wealthy family anywhere in the first world is best right? Society’s controlling tentacles have a hold of us before we are even born: Is freedom an illusion then?
Can we ever be free?
Perhaps we need to think of freedom as an adjective describing our existence, not a thing to achieve, but a thing that describes us at a particular time. We are free to act, we feel free, freedom is life-giving.
Is being free a feeling and not an actual tangible, touchable thing?
That person is free to choose. A choice, that is all freedom is real. To choose, to make a choice, to stretch out our finger and point to that which pleases us.
We are never free. While in the womb of our parents, society is shaping our parents, moulding us into something. We cannot escape the fact that freedom does not really exist, and that some form of societal authority, some government controls us, and is shaping us daily. A citizen here is just like a Chinese citizen controlled by its government. The only difference may be that here we are told we have rights shaped by our government, and in Communist China, their citizens have privileges only.
Many of our Civil Rights Movements that fight for the “rights” of Black, Aboriginal, Disabled and other minorities protest against the misuse of governmental power. They understand that we all truly do not have “rights” but that we are a privileged people dependent upon individuals choices. The cop chooses to warn or shooting another person. The choices we make mould us and the society we live in. Freedom is something dependent upon interpretation. We think we are free, therefore we are free?. Our history and government tell us so.
Freedom = Choices
To be free is to make those choices that are right for us, individually and as a society. Each individual in our society acts upon their own selfish motives. We are motivated to choose that which places our needs first above anyone else in society. Those that choose the needs of others first are called heroes.
Perhaps, it is time that we all choose to be heroes. Choose to help and assist others before ourselves.
Are we a free people, a people that can choose what shapes us as a nation? As long as we can make choices, and these choices are respectfully enacted by our elected officials, then perhaps we are free.