Monday, September 5, 2011

The Courage to be Free

“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”  (Thucydides)
"Free is when you don't have to do nuthin' or pay nuthin' I wanna be free"

That was Frank Zappa. It conveys a basic idea at a teen level, but doesn't follow through. You are free to do nothing - but you're also free to starve. And if you pay nothing, you get nothing - unless you have a benefactor hidden away somewhere.

We hear so much about freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of association, freedom of religion. But are we truly free? It seems all freedoms come at a price. There's no such thing as a free lunch. There's always a price to be paid. We are free to speak our minds as long as there is someone there to hear what we would like to say. The price is saying something that somebody else wants to hear.

What about freedom of worship or religion? In the main, you are free to believe whatever you like - as long as it fits within the framework of the group you are now affiliated with - otherwise you're out, bud. And you will find that with all religions - fit in or move on. In other words - you're not free to think what you want.

OK - so you decide to not adhere to a particular group - you will be a non-conformist and sail your own boat (in whatever facet of your life). But what is the price of being non-conformist? Maybe it's not knowing whether you have been cast adrift in an infinite sea, no knowing if there are any other beings who are experiencing the same thing. We do find it helps to have company, don't we? Makes us feel a little more reassured.

Ultimately, maybe it comes down to the question : " Do I want to live my life with a conditional freedom, a shadow of the freedom I could really achieve, or do I want to strive to break free and live my life on the edge?

The price will be not knowing what happens next, but I am willing to take the chance, because to retreat to the safety of the crowd means I sacrifice my new-found freedom. Am I prepared to do that?

Have the courage to break free!

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