Freedom dissectedMonday, October 18, 2021
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.
Humanity's 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 cries out to be nurtured and cared for while also fearing that this self-empathy will enslave them.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has pointed out this struggle clearly. 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, in fact, many of us rebel, protesting against the very government agencies working to keep us safe.
This goal of herd immunity cannot be achieved unless most of our fellow citizens are immunised. We are told that many of our citizens will not fall for this concept, which has been devised, according to the unconvinced, to control us, as though being controlled is an evil concept.
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 free, but seconds later we must admit that who, what, and where we are tend to shape the nature of our freedom. Society's controlling tentacles take 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.
But, we are never free, and we cannot escape the fact that freedom does not really exist and that some form of societal authority controls us and is shaping us daily.
A citizen in the West is just like a Chinese citizen controlled by its Government. The only difference is that here we are told we have rights, while in communist China the citizens have privileges.
Many of our civil rights movements that fight for the “rights” of blacks, Aboriginals, 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 each individual's choices. The choices we make mould us and the society we live in.
Freedom is something dependent upon interpretation. Because we think that we are free, are we, therefore, free? Our history and Government tells us we are.
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 above anyone else's in society. Those that choose the needs of others first are called heroes.
Perhaps it is time that we all choose to be heroes by making the choice 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.