- The condition of being free; the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints
Who gives us our freedom? The king, the president, the generals? What about democracy, god, or our parents? We often hear people talking about wanting their “freedom – not people incarcerated for crimes, but people psychologically imprisoned by their leaders. People who – for fear of imprisonment or death – cannot speak or act freely.
The freedom to think has never been able to be controlled, but I’m sure some governments would like to be able to do it; it would certainly make their job of controlling the citizens easier. So although people can think, and the government cannot hear them, how frustrating must it be to be able to think freely but unable to speak or act freely?
“The ideology of my government is wrong,
they are killing their own people who speak out against them.
They want us to worship them, but I hate everything they stand for.
They want me to inform on my family, if they speak out against them.
I want to tell someone it is wrong,
but I fear for my life,
so I put up with it, and am tortured in my silence.”
Freedom – in the dictionary sense – is not your right, but something “given” to you, almost as a favour; a display that the government is generous towards the citizens of the country. It means you have the freedom to determine your own life, the power to act, speak and think without interference from the government. Oh, I forgot, that is, until you say, or do something that is against them.
I am not talking about committing a crime, such as stealing or murder, I’m talking about a crime with no victim. The crime, if that’s what you can call it, is speaking out against your own government. This is when you find that your “freedom” was actually only on loan to you, as long as you conformed to what was expected of you. It is almost like an unwritten agreement – your freedom, for your cooperation with the government. Break the agreement, and you may find your freedom being revoked, and a charge of treason laid at your door.
- A crime that undermines the offender’s government
- Disloyalty by virtue of subversive behaviour
- An act of deliberate betrayal
Many people have tried to bring down corrupt governments, or cruel and inhumane regimes, only to find themselves summarily executed, or spending a life sentence in a hard labour camp. In a democracy this wouldn’t happen, they say, but try any of the above treasonable offences and see how caring and understanding your government is.
What I want to understand is, how can a group of individuals want to control what other people think, do, and say? Well, let’s try to understand a government’s job shall we (even in an undemocratic country). In short, it is to raise taxes from the people, and provide essential services like health, education, infrastructure (roads/electricity), and to protect their citizens from harm. That is all. If you’re lucky, they may use some of your tax to set up a social welfare system, which aims to help the needy.
Employers provide jobs that pay the workers, enabling them to pay for shelter, foodstuffs, and anything else they wish to buy with their hard earned money. The problem starts when – instead of being in government to help the citizens – the government starts to exist for its own sake. In a word, the leaders have tasted a very human emotion, and are not going to let go of it.
- Possession of controlling influence
And why would they? It’s nice to be powerful! It feels good. It gives you a sense of being someone, not just an average man. You have armies at your disposal, you can order mass destruction at the touch of a button, you can have people killed that get in the way of your plans. Power. That’s what destroys freedom.
People with power start to think they are more than human; they begin to see themselves apart from the rest of the people. They begin to rule from above; exercising their will, without any thought to anyone else. Their power must be absolute as they are now addicted to it, and they aren’t going to give it up without a fight.
Ideology has nothing to do with it. Can you see? It doesn’t matter if they are communist, conservative, socialist or liberal, they have one thing in common, they have power. You control what people say or do, but you also want them to love you – such is the destructiveness of power – so you grant them their freedom.
The generous, benevolent leader, bestowing the ultimate gift on “his” people. Freedom…
Do you think you have freedom; are you free? Who gave you freedom?
You see, for the word freedom to exist, there must be a controlling power who issues it. If everyone really could act, speak or think, without externally imposed restraints, there would be no need for the word, would there?
Freedom to act, speak or think, without externally imposed restraints, is only possible if you speak, act or think within the boundaries set by the controlling power. Even if it is a democratic power.
In case you were wondering, this does not only apply to governments. Parents do it by limiting what you do “for your own good.”
“You’re not going out tonight;” “you’re not seeing that boy again;” “you’re grounded for a week for not doing your homework;” “you’re not watching that tv show.”
They also try to limit what you say, because they find it offensive, or not in line with their values.
But it all changes when you get near the age of adulthood. They show you their magnanimous side, by saying “Your mother and I have discussed it, and we think we’re going to let you have a bit more freedom, now you’re getting older.”
Thanks very much, that’s generous of you to allow me my freedom!
It seems to be, that once you are given a position of trust to care for someone (government caring for the people/parent caring for the child), you soon find out that actually what you have is power over another individual; and people with power soon find they are being corrupted by it. Why? Because they like the feeling. It raises their self-esteem, and any inadequacies they may have felt dissolve. They have the power of life and death over people; they feel like a god.
I was free when I was born
I’ll be free when I die
If only I could see through fear
I’d be free whilst I’m alive
The only way to true freedom is through the understanding of fear. Why? Well, because it is natural to experience fear when someone is exerting great power over you. You know you must conform, or they have the power to take away your “freedom.”
We belong to the most intelligent species on the planet – one marked by superior intelligence and articulate speech – but what’s the point of all this intelligence and complex language if we can’t use it?
People in power will tell you that you are “free” to do, say, and think what you like, and that’s nice of them, but if someone tells me I am free, I know that in truth I am not. I am only free as long as I do not confront the person in power, so I am afraid to say, or do what I want, in case I offend them.
When I am no longer afraid, I am free. People in power can no longer control a man who is not afraid, their power starts to slip, and eventually they lose their power.
We will go into fear in a separate topic, but for now, think what you are most afraid of, and imagine if you said or did something against someone in power. What is the worst thing they can do to you? Even as a young person, your parents can’t really do that much to you. Maybe ban you from going out for a month, or revoke some privileges, which is bad at the time, and enough to keep you afraid of losing them in the future. But what about as an adult? What is the worst thing you can imagine happening if you spoke out against the people in power?
For me, it would have to be the torture and murder of my family, because I love them, and I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to them. You would think that my death would be my greatest fear, that they would kill me, but death is final, there is no more pain. Death is not something to be afraid of, it is a natural process that will happen to all of us one day, but to do something to my family, that is a different matter!
That is why people in power – the world over – will always use something you love, as an instrument of fear. They know you love your family, and to take them away would be the worst thing they could do to you, save kill you. This is control. This is when you know you are not free. You must conform.
Of course, in advanced democracies, this control is rather more loose than in certain dictatorships around the world, but it still exists, otherwise there would be no such word as “treason.”
Freedom from fear = True freedom
Power is, in truth, emotional emptiness, or a lack of love in your life; and it is an empty man who tries to control another through fear.
Think about it. Whether you are a dictator, president, general, parent, director, manager, or supervisor – it goes right down the chain of command; You are trying to make yourself feel better by making someone else feel worse!
People are afraid of you, and you feel better, so you must keep controlling what they say or do in order to sustain the feeling. This control is called power, which is addiction, which is pleasure. And as we know from our other discussions, when the brain tastes pleasure, it isn’t going to give it up without a fight. Likewise, the person in power isn’t going to give up their position without a fight.
Help for the addicted:
The only way to free yourself from this addiction is to understand why you enjoy having control over other people. Even if you say it is your job, power is an addiction, which is pleasure. The world was not created so that one man has power over others.
We are all humans together, we all have a role to play here on earth, through cooperation. We are all born the same, we look the same without clothes, and we all die the same.
The dominance and control of others through fear is not the sign of a compassionate man, nor the sign of one who loves. It is the sign of power, addiction, and control, surely not things you wanted when you were born. When you let love back into your life, when you feel empathy and compassion for all other human beings, when you stop thinking about you, the need for dominance and control over others disappears. It’s that simple.
You don’t need to control other people to make yourself feel good; you need to build up your own self-esteem, so you feel good about you – not just when you have power over others. Maybe you should start a self-help support group for people addicted to “power and control over others,” and maybe then, we really will be able to remove the word freedom from the dictionary, for there would truly be no need for it anymore.