Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Escape from Freedom

Humans constantly seek predictability. The stress caused by lack of certainty can be unbearable.

Take the case of air traffic controllers. These folks who pore intently over computer screens directing air traffic. They suffer from extremely high levels of stress and often take ill because of stress. The stress is caused not so much by the work but from being responsible for many lives and huge resources. Aircraft moving at high speed, the high possibility of aircraft colliding depending only on technology, common sense and training of humans.

Too much predictability and humans get bored, too much variety and uncertainty can exhaust us. We need the right balance to stay excited and satiated.
However excitement is an addiction. Like all addictions we need increasing doses to get the same high. This explains why we pay good money for stuff like adventure rides to people to spook us. Paying money to be frightened.

Rulers, governments, bureaucrats, organisations and the movers and shakers understand this aspect well, and none more than the priests belonging to all faiths. All of them amplify uncertainty and present answers and a predictable future, as means to assuage the masses and keep them on the straight and narrow path , to God only knows where.

Using Religion, morality, patriotism, social norms uniforms etc, they manipulate and control the masses, to do their bidding.
Most humans have an inkling that they are being toyed with but do not see any other option but to follow the so called 'leaders'.

Due to dramatic and constantly increasing influence of, technology and mismanagement by leaders, life looks increasingly uncertain with each passing day. Couple this with rapidly declining moral values and life looks dangerous. People feel trapped and helpless. We want to break free.

Ask most people what they want most and they will say they want to be free. If you ask them what do they mean by being free, you will be surprised with the answers. Most people only want to escape their present situation, but they have no idea what to do with that freedom.

Voltaire the great French writer and philosopher remarked, "It is not enough to be free, it is more important to know what to do with one's freedom."

Freedom has two aspects, 'freedom from' and 'freedom to'. We often seek to be free of people, situations and problems, but lacking true thinking and self understanding we attach ourselves to a new set of beliefs imposed on us by society, family, friends, priests the government and the media. Only to wake up alarmingly one day that we are in the same situation but in a new environment. We then seek freedom from the new set of beliefs and situation.

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free". ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We painstakingly extract ourselves from one situation to mire ourselves in a new set of problems because we do not think. Thinking is a rare thing. I am not talking of animalistic thinking needed for survival, but the search for meaning in our existence, and ourselves. However it is only possible to think effectively when the mind is stilled and free from disturbances.

In today's world we are operating at high excitement and stress levels. Even catching the bus or the flight, getting to work or the children to school is now become an exhausting grind. There is no time to be alone with oneself and to come to terms with the inner person within us. We have become strangers to ourselves.

Most of us are rational human beings, yet we continue to escape from freedom and into bondage. Why?

Man is a social creature. If his economic, social and political condition do not provide him a sense of individuality while simultaneously depriving him of ties that provide him security then freedom becomes unbearable and creates powerful doubts. This situation gives rise to a powerful urge to seek submission by man to the world in some manner which promises relief from uncertainty and thus deprives the individual of his freedom.

The world as we now know it is extremely uncertain. Enveloped by turbulence, born of hatred and greed, we grasp at straws so as not to be overwhelmed by confusion and uncertainty. We cling to strange religious, political, social, regional, and personal beliefs which are more often than not detrimental not only for us but for society as a whole.

Let us teach our children that excitement is not joy, it is sometimes good to be bored so that we are able to find time to contemplate and better understand ourselves and our world. That more is not always better. To respect oneself and other human beings and all creatures with whom we share this planet. Life is not for consuming ourselves like a candle burning at both ends.

To live and work as an individual in harmony with the world, not under compulsion, but as an individual making independent choices. To do all this so as to be truly free. If we do this successfully, then we would make the world a better place for ourselves and our children

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