We currently live in the free world. We are told that we are free because we are able to own property, seek out paid employment and elect our leaders democratically. These are all important freedoms, and we are lucky to have them. But how free do these freedoms make us? Are having freedoms the same as being free?
Let us first examine our supposed freedoms. One of the major freedoms that we are told that we possess is the right to own personal property. Most times this property is in the form of land or housing. We are free because we can own our own home. But how many people truly own their home? Although we are free to own property, the price of owning property is such that most people are required to go to a bank to receive a loan to help them purchase their home. Not many people are able to drop $200,000 in cash on a new home. So, for the majority of people, our freedom to own property is subject to receiving a loan from a bank first. And banks have to right to refuse our request for a loan if they feel that we will be a liability. So now, only those with sufficient standing amongst the banks are free to own property. And even once they purchase this property with the loan from the bank, they still do not legally own that property. If they fall behind in their payments, the bank has the right to claim the property as their own and evict the “owners”. It seems that the freedom to own property really only applies to those wealthy enough to purchase it without the help of a bank. Because even if the bank will help you to purchase your property, they still technically own it for the next 25 years, until you have paid off the mortgage in full.
We are also told that we are free because we are able to seek out employment which allows us to earn money. This is an interesting freedom, because choosing not to seek out employment means choosing not to receive money. Since we have established that in order to exercise your freedom to own property you need a substantial amount of wealth, it seems that choosing not to seek employment would be rather foolish. Seeking employment is more of a responsibility than a freedom in our current system. Add to that the fact that the United States is currently upholding a 9% unemployment rate (with this number only including those members of society that are actively seeking assistance from the government) and all of a sudden seeking employment has become more of a challenge, than a freedom. We must seek employment to exercise our freedom to own property, yet there is not enough employment to go around.
Finally, we are told that we are free because we live in a democratic system which allows us to vote. But how often do we get to vote? And what are we voting on? In our current democracy we are voting once every four years, or so, in order to elect a representative. We then grant this representative the power to conduct the rest of the voting for us. When any issues about our livelihood or well-being arise, we defer to the authority of our elected leader and allow them to decide how to vote for us. So in reality, if voting is what makes us free, then we are only free while we are electing our representative. After that, the representative is free to vote for us and we become their servant, following their decisions. If we do not like the decisions they are making for us we can choose to elect a new representative, but we will have to wait the appropriate number of years until we are free to vote again. Until that time we must remain faithful to our representative and follow their new laws. It seems that unless you are one of these representatives, you are really only free one day every four years, or about 0.1% of the time.
It seems that all of our supposed freedoms come with some rather heavy restrictions. The very word freedom seems to contradict the idea of restrictions, however. So what is freedom? Do we truly possess it in our current system?
Freedom is the essential right to do whatever it is that brings you Joy without receiving anyone’s permission. If there is any restriction to freedom, it is a moral one. Your Joy should not be harming anyone else in the process. Other than that, there are no restrictions to freedom. That is what freedom is; a lack of restrictions.
So how do we design a system where freedom is a reality, accessible to all? It seems a community that removed the restrictions from the current system would fare much better. Housing is far too costly. Make whatever excuses for the cost of housing that you want, in order for us to be free we need to change this. Ultimately, all housing should be free. Free housing for a free people. In the same way, employment must be stimulated. It seems the easiest way to stimulate employment would be to allow people to pursue the career they are most passionate about. If communities “go local” and begin to produce most of their essential goods themselves, rather than relying on super-corporations which mass produce items at the cheapest rate possible, the community will find that they easily meet their need for employment. Humans are specialists, and we will naturally filter into all of the jobs required to meet a community’s needs. By accepting this truth and working with it, employment should never be an issue for humanity. Finally, instead of a democratic system where representatives are elected to make our decisions for us, perhaps one where everyone has the right to suggest new ideas and then to vote on them would be more appropriate. If people choose not to vote, that is their choice, but they should have the opportunity. Freedom means having a say in the laws that are created in your community.
We may not quite live in a free world yet, but we are certainly on the right track. We have come a long way in the last 300 years, but we still have further to go. We should not allow our freedoms to let us forget that we ultimately want to be free. Free of restrictions.