Some folks believe in freedom at all costs, but can't really define what that looks like. As a life-long animal person, I have a vivid picture of what freedom at all costs means for our domestic animals. For dogs and cats, it usually means untreated disease and injuries, parasites, and eventual starvation. It's a similar picture for disenfranchised human beings. People would argue that it's better than captivity. But those folks fail to see that there is middle ground: Symbiosis. Most of the best information is found between the two extremes, but people get so wrapped up in an ideology that they fail to think. It's not by accident.
Freedom can mean a lot of things, I suppose. If I take a step back from the specific viewpoints of others and come from the pure perspective of a human being in the world, it means fulfillment. Freedom means the health and resources to be who I am meant to be, the freedom of will to think my own thoughts. It means doing what I am good at, and knowing that if we all were able to be who we are and acknowledge that we are all connected and need each other, then we could achieve a wonderful symbiosis. It feels like a fantasy, doesn't it? But it also feels right.
We all like to think we are free, but most of us don't even think for ourselves. In this age of information, misinformation is rampant and intent on polarizing us. Has anybody stopped to wonder why? Why are we not livid that special interest groups own our government and spend millions of dollars telling us what to think? Why is it that people who call themselves "free thinking Americans" all think exactly the same things and parrot the same language (the same language as the special interest groups who propagate it) and have no awareness at all around it? How is it that we are so insensitive that we think it's imperative that we post pictures of guns and articles that extol the virtues of guns and violence immediately in the wake of a horrible shooting. When did we become this? When did we decide that making political points was more important than allowing people to just process and grieve? How is it, that if we believe in a different ideology that we don't see that we are just thinking in a different ideological box? Just because we agree with something doesn't make it true. Just because we want to believe something doesn't make it a fact. But in order to understand what that means, we have to take a step back, a step out of the constant flow of information. We have to question the information we see; articles memes and videos. We need to stop and ask ourselves "What is the point of this? Is this information (if so, look deeper into it), is the language biased? Is it purposefully divisive?" Unfortunately, as long as we take the information we're fed at face value, we will fail to see the underlying connections. Again, not an accident. I'm working very hard at not getting caught up in it. It's toxic, it's unhelpful, and as long as people are thinking in all-or-nothing terms, we can't accomplish anything.
I felt sad and discouraged just writing that last paragraph. Human beings are capable of so much good, and we've been reduced to hateful, violent, intolerant fools intent on destroying ourselves over material wealth (someone else's) and ideas that aren't even our own. People are actually angry about the expectation that they treat others decently and with respect. I don't even recognize the world I'm living in these days.
But I have freedom of thought. I have freedom of ideas, and I am the one who decides who I am. I am free to focus on the good; the good people the good news. I am free to see and embrace the kindness in others, and to find it in myself. I wish I was free from hate and violence, but it's invaded the psyche of our culture like a disease. I wish I had the resources to be who I am, but I have to believe that day will come. In the meantime, I'll just keep trying to remember who I am and to have some patience and understanding for humanity.