Freedom from/to – Blog No. 10

images-16If you had to choose between freedom from and freedom to, which kind of freedom would you choose?  Or would you insist that freedom in its entirety comprises both the ‘from’ and ‘to’ options?  Freedom from oppression, for example.  Or freedom to choose.  Freedom from persecution.  Or freedom to be?  In our first world we are privileged.  We have the freedom to choose both.  Imagine the value of just one type of freedom when you have never had any.  Who is one man to say that this person can speak their mind and that person cannot?  Who is one man to dictate the conditions of another’s existence?  Why should the Dalai Lama not live where he chooses?  Who are the Chinese to tell that man where he must sit in this life?  I think they have too much audacity for a country that is slowly destroying (the peace of) our planet.  Clearly they are not the only ones, but they are the only ones that operate without either fear (of repercussion) or respect (for this world).  They do, however, revere their panda.  I wish someone from China would explain to the rest of the world what they are thinking when they do the things they do – because watching them behave leaves a great many questions hanging.  Their sullen silence does not help.  The sooner we begin to understand each other as ‘a people’ a ‘breed’, the sooner we can draw a line in the sand and accelerate our evolution.  I don’t believe we are doing all we can to evolve to our full potential as human beings.  There are so many restrictions, so much censorship, so few true guidelines.  I think we need to save ourselves from the butterfly net that would capture our freedom.  I think the big fat corporations are very effective butterfly nets.  I think outdated curricula are very effective butterfly nets.  I think China is a very effective butterfly net.  We need to breathe new, think new, feel new.  It is time to air the archives.

Heart.  Courage.  Remember in this life it is who we are that counts.  Who we are becomes what we are.  We are in Nature.  Ours is the same cycle, as any in life.  If we go to ground with our music still in us, then it bleeds into the earth.  The soil sings.  When the trees grow, they sing that same music – but it will be organic, it has run through another system after all.  The wind takes that song from the lips of the leaves, those whispers, and sends fragments of songs, flying.  We breathe in those fragments.  We build a new song.  We are another system, after all.  Do you not think it is a beautiful cycle of life, this?  We should maybe all appreciate it a little more.  

5 Comments

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5 responses to “Freedom from/to – Blog No. 10

  1. I like your essay on your blog. Biking with Francis he has a blog of his journey on bicycle. Nice to see how you do this for a writer.

    James More, Author of Raise the Flag

  2. Michael, thanks. Your comments are interesting to me. The thing is, I do believe (in our first world – I guess my blog will not be read in the far reaches of Africa, or the Middle East, for instance, where freedom is a word thrown around casually amidst only those ‘privileged’ enough to ‘earn’ it) that we do have both the freedom to (do) and the freedom to be ‘protected’ from. In our every single day we demonstrate our capacity to act freely (obviously within the confines of a societal framework) as well as to be free from the likes of persecution, which I think is a word we all understand. Persecution on any level is unacceptable. Simple. People should not enjoy the ‘freedom to persecute’. Who is one man to persecute another? Who is it that imagines their power over another human being is warranted, or justified? In the mind of the persecutor, perhaps behaviour targetting another’s weakness is acceptable. Perhaps. I tend towards doubt. However, if you enjoy persecuting other people there is something wrong with you.

    I agree, changing one person at a time, from the inside out, is our only hope for a unified world. I don’t see another way. It’s a torturous project, but I think it’s one this planet has undertaken with some gusto.

    As for China, absolutely. But they need to understand that their cliched power/money struggle is not acceptable to the rest of the world. We all have to fit on this planet. Best the Chinese move over and make space for other breeds. Ideologically speaking.

    • I appreciate your perspective, and thanks for the great discussion and for letting me express my thoughts. I may run a shortened version of our discussion on my blog with a link to yours, if that’s ok with you.

      One of my favorite explorations (you have to overlook its anti-Catholic perspective) about freedom is the amazing and challenging chapter called “The Grand Inquisitor” from Dostoevky’s book “The Brothers Karmazov.” I don’t know if you’re a Dostoevky fan and familiar with it, but in the chapter, the representative of the church ironically interviews Christ who has come back unexpectedly, “hindering” the work of the church.

      One of my favorite quotes “from the cardinal himself, the Grand Inquisitor” on the weight and impact of freedom follows. (Perhaps his overall theme in the interview is that he—and those like him—is “selflessly” willing to suffer the burden of everyone’s free choice by making decisions for the weak/masses so they can be unburdened and happy.) Here’s the quote:

      “Without a stable conception of the object of life, man would not consent to go on living, and would rather destroy himself than remain on earth, though he had bread in abundance. That is true. But what happened? Instead of taking men’s freedom from them, Thou didst make it greater than ever! Didst Thou forget that man prefers peace, and even death, to freedom of choice in the knowledge of good and evil? Nothing is more seductive for man than his freedom of conscience, but nothing is a greater cause of suffering.”

      Freedom is one of the greatest gifts we have, regardless of its weight, and I’m grateful to have it.

  3. We can never have both freedom to do and freedom from. We can have freedom to choose/act (always with limits of law and nature: man cannot choose to fly without some sort of supporting mechanism), but we can never hope to control outcome if we offer freedom to choose (even if we don’t consider reasons beyond humanity).

    Freedom from persecution, for example, would require that someone, something define persecution and control all decisions and actions of everyone and everything else to ensure there is no persecution (thus to restrict others’ freedom to persecute or do anything that someone/thing has decided is persecution). And that doesn’t even take into account what happens in the natural world. An extreme example: Who/what will free us from hunger if we were to have years-long, world-wide drought and there is literally not enough food to go around? And who, if not Deity, is to free us from death, illness, etc?

    What we choose to do does make us who and what we are (and I agree completely that is what matters). To limit our freedom to choose so we create “freedom from” destroys what we can become. It is only through trying to influence and improve the world (one person at a time, from the inside out) that holds hope for individual and group/world improvement. Unfortunately, that’s a tough charge and impossible if “freedom from” is proffered as a solution available from government or any other entity. (Think of the repressed hatred in the former Yugoslavia that was unleashed once “freedom to” was granted again.)

    As for China, is it possible that the old cliche, “follow the money” and power is the answer to their choices?

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