Friday, January 6, 2012


What is freedom? We live in the "Land of the Free"; shouldn't we know what it is all about? And yet I think many of us don't.

Google tells you freedom means:

The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

Yet in our country if you asked people what freedom means you would probably get many varying answers. For some I suppose freedom would be nothing more than being able to do what they want to most of the time with out too much regulation. They "own" their homes and have jobs that allow them to pay their bills with enough left over for entertainment. For some freedom is found in their "stuff"; they collect their stuff and find security in the ever growing pile. Some find freedom in the regulation of others; I was once told by a friend that as long as everyone is regulated they don't mind if they are too; it made them feel safer. I think that too often we confuse freedom with security and think if we feel secure we are free. I think the opposite is actually true; there is little security in true freedom.

If one was truly free then they would be free to fail as well. There would be no safety net and no bailout. Sure they could do a lot more with less but hey they could also end up with nothing. Having nothing I think is where true freedom starts. Wisdom is oft where you find it and sometimes it shows up in the strangest of places. Like this little gem found in the hit 1971 song sung by Janis Joplin (written by Kris  Kristofferson) Me and Bobby McGee stating "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to loose" . While a concept like this is unfathomable to most our society today, it doesn't change its relevance. I have shared that line with several people over the years and usually receive a blank look in return. Our society is so attached to material goods and comfort that the thought of giving some or any of it up to obtain more freedom is out of the question.

I know for myself that when we "owned" a house and I worked full time to pay the mortgage, bills and the ever increasing property taxes I did not feel free. In fact the house felt more like a debtors prison than a home. Over the couple of years after 2008 as my wages decreased and my hair turned gray (which by the way has started to turn back to brown), I felt more and more trapped; the proverbial  "American Dream" became a nightmare. Thankfully the house sold and we were able to escape our self inflicted prison. It was at that time in my life that I realized I was no more than a slave. A slave to my debt, and slave to the bills, a slave to our societies expectations  and a slave to the state; through property taxes. I was far from free.

 As we were getting rid of stuff before and after the sale of our house we took about 10 full size pick-up loads of junk to the dump, plus an additional two or three to thrift stores. We also sold everything of value which amounted to many more loads of stuff. After 8 months of this "invaluable" stuff being gone I can honestly say that I don't miss it. I can honestly say that it never made me happy. Now I look around the boat and ask my self "what else can go". I have found more freedom in getting rid of my stuff than I ever found in owning it. Sure there is a certain amount of things that would be hard to live with out; but if you are honest with your self those items are few.

While freedom obviously means different things to different people, one thing none of us should be free to do is take away another's freedom for our personal security or gain.