“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin
Let’s talk about the word Eleutheromania. Everyone desires freedom in one way or another. But, why then, do people who desire freedom not go out of their way to obtain it? It’s because, to them, temporary safety is more important. People believe that the freedom they may one day have will be dangerous. Freedom isn’t safe, or stable. They think that if they have freedom, they will be lost and won’t know what to do. There was structure to their life before freedom. So they are burdened with a choice; leave their jobs and be happy without responsibilities or stay in their comfort zone where there is everything that they have ever know, and where they feel safe. They are stuck in the rat race.
To many people, freedom is an ideal, and they hope that one day eventually at the ripe old age of 65 that they can break out of the rat race and live the life they have always dreamed of. But at 65 it’s too late. People push themselves day after day after day, until one day freedom comes knocking at their door and they are too tired. They have run out of energy. The freedom they have always desired is right there in front of them, ready to be taken. It’s what they’ve always been working for, and now they have it, they can’t embrace it. Achieving freedom after the great turmoil of life and its societal constructs is not really freedom at all. Society will set you free, but not until it is finished with you.
People who attain freedom have complied with the rules and laws that society has adopted to ensure that freedom is freely available. Before you gain freedom, you have to do stuff for us first. What? Why? You can’t tell me what to do, I’m free… right? True freedom is frowned upon, and in the effort to achieve it, a person may find themselves in a worse position than before. Being free is having nothing to lose. But that doesn’t exist. If you think you are free, you’re probably not. Yeah, you may be free from a job, but you’re not free from anything else. You need to survive. And you can’t if you are free. You need money to pay for food, shelter, water, clothes… You have a lot to lose. What people really want is liberation – freedom from limits and restrictions on thoughts, behaviour and responsibility. Why do we think that once we achieve freedom, whether it be freedom from something or freedom to do something, all our problems will be solved?
Freedom is an illusion because people are never really free. Most people wouldn’t know what to do if they had it. If a man was imprisoned for a crime he did not commit but there was no evidence to suggest he wasn’t guilty, and this man desires freedom, what does he really want? A job/ money/ respect? People to believe his innocence? That’s not freedom. Or say that a man was guilty of his crime, was tried and found not guilty. In a societal sense, the guilty man is free, yet his freedom impinges on the freedom of other people. They feel scared, worried, and on edge, because there is a chance that the criminal will commit again because he thinks he can get away with it. He managed to escape the law once, and he is free, right?
If you can think of anything you would do with absolute and complete freedom, what would it be and why? Once you’ve thought about that for a minute, answer the question “Is it really true freedom?”
Featured Image credit: Francisco Moreno