Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, “Men are born free, but everywhere they are in chains.” Bob Dylan added, “How many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free?”
We tend to think of freedom as escape FROM something. I’ve been thinking of it lately more as freedom TO something – mainly, freedom to choose. Freedom to choose… to be and express ourselves… to think for ourselves and honor our thoughts, views and deepest feelings… freedom to follow our path… freedom to listen to out intuition… freedom to create the lives we want.
Freedom means that we’re not imprisoned by anyone else’s words, deeds or thoughts. People have been trained to love permission instead of freedom. Can we break out of the cocoon of imposed thoughts or is that idea too frightening for us? William Wordsworth said, “We tire easily of Freedom.” And Kafka observed, “Sometimes it’s easier to be in chains.”
We are free. But being free is not so easy. We have been conditioned otherwise for many years. Embracing our freedom will often put as odds with the people and world around us. Rosa Luxemburg wrote, “Freedom is always and exclusively for the one who thinks differently.” Just think what your life would have been like if you were, as Alexander Dubek said, “As free as nature first made man to be!”
Jesus said that knowing the truth would set you free. What truth exactly is that? To re-phrase Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s quote, “Jesus offered freedom but everywhere Christians are in chains.” I think this is so because we miss the truth Jesus was referring to. Why? Because that truth is too threatening to the person we have been conditioned to be. It’s just simpler and more comfortable to settle for a lesser truth, and settle for a pseudo-freedom, and then conveniently pin our focus on the afterlife and wait to die to be free.
(Photo from koolyogagirl1.tumblr.com)