Freedom: RIP

Germany. Berlin. I’m walking along the remnants of the Berlin Wall. Once a means of containing and controlling a captive population, the remnants of this wall are now home to a gallery of images. Checkpoint Charlie, that famous crossing between East Berlin and West Berlin, is now a place where smiling tourists get their picture taken with soldiers. A museum sits next to Checkpoint Charlie, dedicated to telling the history of the Berlin Wall, the related tales of escapes to freedom, and to urge people to remain vigilant against restricted freedom in the world today.

As I walk this historic wall and reflect on my own travels over the past two years I can come only to one inescapable conclusion.

We willingly are giving away our hard earned freedom. We are trading it away for a life of slavery.

We build ourselves prisons and call them houses. We add bars and call them possessions. We create locks and call them debt. We hire prison guards and call them bosses. We appoint wardens and call them politicians. When someone dares to suggest a different way of life we typically long for freedom then start describing the vast array of locks and guards that prevent escape. When some thief dares to take one of our possessions, one of the jail cell bars constructed so carefully, we have him hunted down and punished so that the bar may be replaced and the integrity of the prison may be maintained. The wardens use fear for control so that we gladly give them the keys to the prison cells. The guards threaten us with taking the prison away if we don’t do as they say and so we meekly ask them for a larger and stronger prison cell.

Traveling through Latin America and Eastern Europe for over two years then arriving in Germany this was like a slap to the face. Everywhere I look I see limitation. Everything I do I encounter “No!” I describe what I’ve done and people look on with awe, wonder, and yearning, all overridden by fear. I suggest they follow their own dreams, whatever that dream is, as I am following mine and I am told “impossible!”

I do not condemn these prisons. I do not try to change them. I lived in one happily for years and it was only by pure chance that I didn’t spend a lifetime inside of it. I remember the feelings of freedom and unlimited opportunity that came when I first started to realize what I had done. I remember the feelings of fear and overwhelming responsibility that came along with those of freedom and opportunity.

It is a daunting prospect to be free. To have no limits. To know that anything is possible. To have nobody to answer to. Nobody to blame but myself when something goes wrong. No guarantee of safety when something bad happens.

I am also aware that it would be so very easy to step back into that prison. To forget what I have learned. Even now I feel its seductive call. We have grown so very good at constructing luxurious prisons for ourselves. So very good at coming up with reasons why those prisons are a good idea.

There are of course many people who have escaped their prisons. They have realized the limitations are of their own construction. They will sometimes keep a few of the trappings of the prison yet the door has been lashed open. They wander in and out of the prison at will in a way that leaves others bewildered at their behavior.

I have my own prison.

It is small, drafty and sparsely furnished. The door is open, the guard is AWOL and the warden has been told to bugger off. It is the prison I have chosen and I work hard every day to ensure its door remains wide open. When the mood suits me I tear the prison apart and construct for myself a new prison, just as small and drafty as the last.

The implications for the future are terrifying. The whole world looks to Europe for how to be civilized. The whole world longs for the elaborate prisons in which Europeans live. Yet the focus should be in the reverse direction. We of the civilized world should be learning from our “backwards neighbors”.

It is, of course, a difficult thing. Freedom. It has problems…very significant drawbacks that are difficult for us to accept. Uncertainty and a responsibility for one’s own actions. An environment filled with chaos. A society rife with corruption. Yet having seen what it is like on both sides of the prison door….I personally will never go back.

In the real world….what does this mean?

I admit this realization has shaken me. I have not gone into details on how I came to this conclusion because it is too long and involved….read this blog from start to end and you will have glimpsed a minute fraction of what went into creating that moment of understanding at Checkpoint Charlie.

I am a big fan of living in the real world as it actually exists. What this means is I will do: absolutely nothing different. It is an interesting and somewhat scary aspect of the world we live in….perhaps of humanity itself. I will continue to learn about it as I learn about the world and humanity and myself. I will on rare occasions discuss it with people I meet and I may even someday write more about it here on my blog.

Except….I will be that little bit more vigilant as I go about my life. That touch more aware when I build up or break down a prison wall. A bit of a pause to consider…what are the implications?

Important Note
I expect many people who read this post will disagree with what I say. Please keep any discussion civilized or comments will be closed.

2 comments to Freedom: RIP

  • Elizabeth

    Oh my… Now this is a very different position for you. Rather extreme. I have been seeing some kind of change like this over the last few years. However I personally would not have worded it to this extreme. But whatever makes you happy, Bro! You truly are going for your dreams.

    Just remember that everyone’s dreams change and morph into something new as they move through life. What is a dream and goal now may not be anything near the same in another few months or few years.

    • othalan

      I am quite aware that dreams, goals, priorities, and perceptions all change. Sometimes rapidly and without notice. I am also quite aware that they are all different for each person.

      As for going for my dreams…I am not actually going for them and realized recently I never really have. Which is actually a good thing. The real world is quite a different place than the world(s) I dream up. Someday I may write a post on this.

      As for what I say here being extreme…. Yes, it is extreme. I admit it freely and with no apologies. Yet different? A great surprise to me is that it really isn’t all that different from my original position.

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