"What is holding you back from feeling more free?" A philosophical linguistic perspective. #freedomchallenge

in #freedomchallenge4 years ago (edited)

I was searching for a philosophical topic to engage with in my next steemit entry, and just so happened to scroll straight down to a post by @mountainjewel.
It was a lovely and heartfelt entry for @sagescrub’s #freedomchallenge.
“Perfect”, I grinned to myself, “internet manifestation at its best.”

So I headed over to @sagescrub’s post on the 2nd freedom challenge and checked out the prompt in its original context:

What is holding you back from feeling more free?

Linguistically, looking at this question I sought a deeper construct. Not just what holds myself back from feeling more free, but what is holding us back from experiencing genuine freedom? What does it even mean to be free?

The idea of being held back infers that there is an external force acting against us, our will, or our sense of engagement with the world around us. So what could this force be, and how can we work to clear that energy in order to open up space for true freedom?
Deeper still, am I ready to discover what true freedom is?

Merriam-Webster gives fifteen definitions for the dictionary entry free.

Of these 15 definitions, the second entry caught my attention quite quickly:

2 a : having the legal and political rights of a citizen
b : enjoying civil and political liberty
c : enjoying political independence or freedom from outside domination
d : enjoying personal freedom : not subject to the control or domination of another

This secondary definition does give a certain sense of what freedom may mean, but I find it lacking true validity as the definition is embedded in systematic control. We can see this through the use of the word citizen. Simple logic, Merriam-Webster defines citizen as “a native or naturalized person who owes allegiance to a government and is entitled to protection from it”.

So in this sense, we can’t even give a proper definition of the word free without compacting it into a set of prescribed conditions, such as allegiance to a government. But doesn’t this then counteract the definition of "c: freedom from outside domination"? or "d: not subject to control or domination of another"?

These definitions began to bother me. Freedom seems, by dictionary terms, to be granted to citizens, who are by dictionary terms, owing allegiance to an outside controlling force. Freedom cannot be truly granted then if citizens have any fees, taxes or bills, because it would erase the primary definition of the word: “ not costing or charging anything”. Even more, how can we shy away from recognizing the definitive cost of allegiance: "the obligation of a feudal vassal to his liege lord" Definition source: Merriam-Webster?

Volume I.jpg

When I was in 7th grade I got in some deep trouble because I refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance before class. I was no longer comfortable pledging my allegiance to a piece of cloth which represented so many things I had such distaste for.

I was far from proud of the genocide of the First Nations which gave way to create this flag we so dutifully pledged ourselves to. I wasn’t proud of the current actions of the state either. Finally, I wasn’t looking to speak these words which may seem droll to many due to their prevalence in our society, but were really created as words of power.

One nation under god? No way! I was already into ALL nations living fruitfully under WHATEVER power they felt right.

Indivisible? With liberty and justice for all? I mean, seriously, it’s like they forgot entirely about this land being taken from people who had much more freedom than we have, forgotten the many divisive disputes of our lands. They forgot about slavery and discrimination, about all the many laws enacted to keep people tame, detained, and often acting against personal will.

When I sat down and listened to the whole class repeat these words like it was a daily ritual (which it was!) I scoffed at how far from true these words were. Even at what is considered an immature age, I could see injustice everywhere. Feeling quite free and non-discriminated myself, as a young white girl, I was aware that even my many liberties were being cornered. By refusing to say these words, I quickly had control acted upon me. I lost my personal freedom—because I was an individual, refusing fealty.

y the beach (1).jpg

So then. What is holding me back from feeling more free?

I now consider myself coming into the age of adult. A youthful 22 goin’ on 23, but I feel quite grown in comparison to the child I once was. These days, I feel free when I am aligned with Merriam-Websters third and fifth definitions of free.

3 a : not determined by anything beyond its own nature or being : choosing or capable of choosing for itself
b : determined by the choice of the actor or performer
c : made, done, or given voluntarily or spontaneously

5 a : having no trade restrictions
b : not subject to government regulation
c of foreign exchange : not subject to restriction or official control

To me, these definitions feel the most aligned with my personal understanding of the word free. I feel that humans should be able to live naturally, in a state of personal freedom. Most of us, however, are born into systems which are already set up against us.

Guises promising liberty, freedom and justice for all in exchange for allegiance.

Systems created to govern us, control us, and restrict our freedom of choice. We are born and numbered with social security numbers. We are cast into education systems which teach us prescribed patterns of behavior and thought, prescribed ways of analyzing and understanding “the facts”.

When did we lose the right to be natural humans?

Where is the petition I can sign to become a natural being, not a governed citizen?

Why can’t I choose to fight for survival in the wild, living off the land and in harmony with the wilderness around me?

Personally--in my own world separate from others' experiences--I've come to understand that my personal freedom is restrained as long as I am governed. Government is the nominal form of the verb govern.
Following are the first two entries of Merriam-Webster’s definition of govern:

1 a : to exercise continuous sovereign authority over; especially : to control and direct the making and administration of policy
b : to rule without sovereign power and usually without having the authority to determine basic policy

2 a archaic : manipulate
b : to control the speed of (a machine) especially by automatic means
3 a : to control, direct, or strongly influence the actions and conduct of
b : to exert a determining or guiding influence in or over
c : to hold in check : restrain

y the beach.jpg

We have come so far as a species that we have begun to pigeonhole ourselves in the quest for 'advancement'. We created systems to help organize and strengthen our communities, but these systems have transformed towards oppression, division, and control. Only the richest or slyest of us seem able to experience freedom from legal retribution. Even on BLM land we cannot camp in one area for more than a prescribed number of days.

Our natural freedoms as free-range human BE-ings has been taken from us in order to upkeep the political 'freedom' of the masses.

But these civil + political freedoms can't really be free when disregarding finance, they still come at a cost. The cost of allegiance. The cost of funneling oneself neatly into the predetermined structures of society, without leaving a truly open option for personal exploration or expansion. We are trimming down our wild edges and removing ourselves from our natural habitats, turning our backs to our nature while requesting so much from our planet.

This is what I have come to understand: I am a human, an animal, born into a caged system set in place long before my time. Until I can freely--in every sense of the word--choose a life entirely outside of this system, I will not have the opportunity to experience true freedom.

till next time,
be sweet, stay wild, and be considerate


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When I was at school, we had to pledge allegiance to a Queen! Imagine that, to commit ourselves to a foreign power that had little to no discernable effect in a childs daily life.

I remember being quite amazed when I realized the length of time bloodlines can hold such power @ligayagardener.

It's incredible what is required from children or adults without providing utility or honest background information in return.

I guess we're not really simple humans these days, just feudal vassals with liege lords 😒

The circumstances that are descriptive of the greatest minimum of freedom are counted among the so called third countries of the world. In my opinion, in the developed world there is a great amount of freedom, even for an individual to choose to leave it all behind. I think people enjoy saying they are not free, it absolves one from actual doing something substantial about it, rather than enjoy their comfortable live, if that be the case. I don't think governments, apart from those explicit tyrannies and dictatorships etc, are the malevolent bastards we make them out to be. Sure, they might be corrupt, inefficient and incompetent govt but that's about it.

Political philosophy aside, the general attitude of the person is survival. In an environment, we form relationships for that reason, to preserve ourselves, our belonging and people important to us. So then it seems that cooperative bodies are a given. That being the fact that it is, it follows that the formation of governments etc is inevitable. In those government, those people share in a social contract to preserve societies. Of course these don't have to be only one sort of governmental organisation, they can take on any shape.

Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts @deadsparrow. After re-reading and mulling over your comment for quite a while, I feel that I understand or at least can acknowledge where you are coming from in order to write as thoughtful of a response as your very thoughtful original comment.

I do agree that claiming lack of freedom while not working towards attaining it, is an irresolute and self-absolvent behavior. I also agree and can attest to the truth that developed countries have a lot of options for their citizens. However, I personally still can't comfortably consider these options and/or opportunities freedoms in the (american english) linguistic frame or definitive sense.

I deeply believe and agree that humans are social creatures. We are complex beings with the capacity to feel deeply, and I think utilizing our versatile range of emotions is necessary for human happiness. This innately then should presume social activities, societies and formative groups as important parts of our lives . Because really, everything in this world is structured, down to the very energies from which we are composed.

My biggest take-away from looking into this word 'free', is re-examining and re-considering the intentions, the blueprints, and the utility of the structures in place. Many nations provide ample opportunities for their citizens, but we are lacking the ability to naturalize ourselves freely, without any possibility of legal recompense, without judgement from or abandonment of society.

If our government structures are or ever were built with corrupt, inefficient or incompetent intent, we should utilize our scientific and human 'advancement' to adapt. Creating structures which are honest , efficient, and competent at providing positive foundations for the individuals within their society to thrive upon.

I believe that this can be done through adaption of pre-existing structures as long as they are not based on ideologies which disregard natural balance and the importance of retaining a healthy environment. If we try to adapt our systems which are too far from center, we risk breaking these systems or failing entirely.

Perhaps we may find more freedom if we can focus on promoting localization, naturalization preservation + adaptation of societal structures which allow free (in every definition) transition from the game of power, survival + competition towards an honest life of adaptation, harmonization + community.

This post is sponsored by @appreciator in collaboration with #steemitbloggers. Keep up the good work

Thank you thrice @appreciator!! So glad to see I am putting out some quality appreciated work 👍😍

Hi @coyoteom, thank you for participating in the #FreedomChallenge!

We have come so far as a species that we have begun to pigeonhole ourselves in the quest for 'advancement'. We created systems to help organize and strengthen our communities, but these systems have transformed towards oppression, division, and control.

Such a wise observation. How ironic that we can easily sign ourselves up for more oppression, division and control every day out of free will. Either because we don't see the whole big picture or out of complacency.

Our natural freedoms as free-range human BE-ings has been taken from us in order to upkeep the political 'freedom' of the masses.

I appreciate that you make the point that without the ability/choice to be free ranging humans and without connection to nature we cannot truly be free. It begs the question, can we be free if we cannot live naturally? And what does it mean to live naturally?

Also.. beautiful photos!!

Thanks for providing a great challenge. I tried to take this #freedomchallenge from a slightly different perspective while keeping it very literal, I'm glad it has come through as observant instead of finicky or incongruent.

I deeply wish that I was born into a society steered towards naturalization and self sufficiency instead of towards globalization and wage slavery.

Thanks, also, @sagescrub for the photo props! I definitely took way longer than I intended choosing which photos best represented these ideas without being overly constrictive or bold.

I deeply wish that I was born into a society steered towards naturalization and self sufficiency instead of towards globalization and wage slavery.

I hope you don't wish yourself out of appreciating your beautiful mind and heart :)

Thank you for this lovely reminder! I try to be very appreciative of the many things around us which support the positive growth of our energy✨🙌

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