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January 3, 2014 / Congau

The Impossible Freedom

Freedom is absolute. Man is born free, but after the moment of birth he will never again be free. Throughout life there will always be someone above him taking his freedom away. Yet some people are freer than others. They are the ones who were able to keep the most of what they were originally given (or managed to regain some of it). They are more human than us. Who are they?

Being free is simple. It means doing whatever you want; nothing more, nothing less. There can be no restriction to this basic statement. The moment you only allow a person to do as he wants if or as long as he fulfills certain other conditions, he is no longer free. Don’t say: Freedom means doing what you want as long as you are not infringing on the freedom of others. No, then you submit to a law higher than yourself, and thereby you lose your freedom. Unless you can do whatever you want in an absolute sense, you are not absolutely free.

But wait. What I just said may sound horrible and the objections are obvious. Should you be allowed to kill someone if that’s what you want? To this I’m afraid I must answer: Yes, you should. If you are to be free, you should. If that’s what you want, you should. If that’s what you want. You see, I don’t really think you want to do that.

Freedom is simple, perfectly simple, but the will is complicated, awfully complicated.

Everyone wants what is good for oneself. That is what we really want. Do we know what we really want? Do we have any idea? Those few people who come closest to knowing their real will, are those who have done best at preserving their inborn freedom. Maybe certain Buddhist monks or the like have somewhat managed to find their true will by understanding their own true nature in harmony with the universe. The rest of us have inevitably gone astray from the moment we were born. We don’t know what we want, so we cannot be free.

Then we must content ourselves with relative freedom, a lukewarm prosaic relative freedom which is hardly a freedom at all. And so the state steps in with its double-edged sword helping us to be free from ourselves and in the process taking our freedom away.

Then what is freedom?

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