To be free is one of the most complex ideas ever.
We are never truly free. There is always an attachment or something that we will need from another.
At a basic level, humans need to interact with other humans. It is like a bank account. You need attention and when you do not get it – you need more when you do get it. When we do not interact with others, we become less human. Some people never give and never get into the relationship game. When we do start interacting with people, a complex set of interactions unfolds to shape our relationships.
Man has it pre-wired to seek to gain advantage over others. We have to feel that we are superior in some way or form. This superiority plays out in the way we present ourselves to society. We insist that something in our make-up needs to be different from others. It is a primal instinct that originates from mating. Research is showing that one of the differentiating factors of human selection is that people choose people that have a perceived uniqueness about them. In this way – we tend to create new variations in the system and keep the gene pool diverse. Advantage in this sense also could mean to highlight a disadvantage. By allowing yourself to be pitied or presenting defects – often it means that you are indirectly in control of a situation. By always being sick, one sibling gets more attention than their healthy counterpart does. The sickness becomes what defines the sibling.
The very act of seeking advantage is what drives power.
Power manifests when we embed a human need into a position and we occupy this position with a person. We give away some of our self-determination in favour of someone that would be good at serving that specific function in society and we trust and otherwise support this person to fulfil that function. At a basic level – we trust each other to cook, to clean and to take care of daily situations. These functions are fulfilled and it allows the total achievement or energy of the system to increase.
In a more complex scenario we trust groups of people to take on complex challenges by having given our power to do so to them. I am not in a position to provide my own water, land and roads – as the task I have effectively delegated to people that will make a living out of fulfilling those functions. In exchange I will fulfil other functions that society expects of me, with the hope that this exchange will generally be fair and that I can partake in society at large and society at large will reciprocate by striving to make the world a better place for all.
Enter advantage again.
Two people are working on a task generally have two motivations. One sees it as a task in itself and the other sees it as a means to an end. Both do the work, but the expectation of the first is that the task is complete and this can now lead to the next task while the expectation of the second is that the task is complete and now they never have to do that type of work ever again. The first is a good worker and the second is labeled as ambitious. The second person has a conversation with the first person and convinces them that it is better that they continue doing the task that was described and that they both did the first time. He tells the first person that he will do important things for both of them and starts organizing tasks, getting new tasks and thinking up ideas for tasks. When the worker sees that the ideas guy is working less physically than him, he starts complaining and the idea guys either convinces the worker that they must keep on working or if this fails dominates them in ways that keeps them working.
This domination is important because it entrenches the advantage of the ideas person and keeps them from doing the hard labour. The advantage is important because it procures a better girl.
So how do the ideas people dominate? They think and ideas turn into rules. If the person does not want to work as hard, they must fill in a form. If the worker fills in the form, it still cannot happen because there is now a regulation. The regulation states that the form was not filled in correctly. When the worker fills in the form correctly and follows the regulation, then the regulations change or there is a fee involved that requires them to do more work. If all of this is too much, then the ideas people offer some entertainment. The entertainment is expensive – so the worker has to work harder. When entertainment is too much work, the ideas people put it in the news, newspapers and a million other ways in which they make the workers work more and the ideas people work less.
When the worker dies – another worker replaces them. When the ideas person dies, the regulations and the rule books are passed on to the next ideas person that must drive the bureaucracy. When the new worker asks why things are the same, they are told that it has always been like that but there is a form that they can fill in, and the cycle starts again.
Now we all sit back at this point and say, but some people need to work and some people need to come up with ideas. This is the natural order of things. In writing this article – many people highlighted that this is exactly how things should be.
They also thought they were ideas people, but after some careful consideration realised that they are just workers being manipulated into thinking that they are on the other side – a rather fiendish trick of the ideas people.
So, what does this have to do with freedom? Realising that we are being oppressed allows us to become conscious of the possibility that we have options. For instance, it allows us to become the ideas people, and oppress others more effectively – or alternatively to come up with a new way of doing things that does not require one party to gain an advantage over another (which is a very ideas person answer). It also allows us to be workers and be happy about it, knowing that we will be oppressed, but accepting that it is our lot. We will take the form, fill it in, do it bloody well and also make sure that we are in the front of the queue when we submit it. We know the regulation will mess us up – but we will do it anyway because it is the way that things work.
In the modern society we have another option, which is technology. We can now either remove the oppressor by getting a meaningless agent to do the job, or put it into a system, which allows the ideas person – to not even have to come up with a new idea to keep the bureaucracy going. We have used systems neatly to replicate our normal inefficiencies in society.
The level to which regulations and frameworks have come to rule our lives are beyond frightening. Every area, discipline and science has become complex miasmas of layer upon layer of terminology, regulations and basic exploitation of individuals. We pay billions in taxes to come up with new ways in which the systems in society will disappoint us daily. All of this so that the few, can benefit from the many. This is not a bad thing always – as we few want to benefit from not having to do everything ourselves. This is need. Need is an important factor of what drive society. Sometimes the system of need fails and we create jobs and functions that society at some level can do without. The system is designed to perpetuate itself and incremental evolution keeps on making the system work the same as before.
Nowhere is this more apparent than with the sheer number of security guards that sit in front of doors and have books filled in with visitors’ details. They have no real function other than to record that some other person was there. This can be done with technology. The challenge is that you will eliminate millions of jobs across the world in a blink of an eye. Another example is photocopying. Going paperless has only produced more paper. It really is sad.
Bureaucracy saps the joy out of living – but without it, unfortunately so many people will not have jobs.
So if we look at it there are many things that capture us and that keeps us from being free. It seems that we get stuck a lot and that this enslaves us. There is more potential in us than we can handle. Life repeats itself over and over in more elaborate patterns of sameness.
So to become free we have to stop looking outside and start looking inside. If you change how you view the world – then you become truly free of the external world and your inner world becomes strong. With a strong inner world you can start shaping the other world more effectively.
Freedom is always attainable. We often do not want to either pay the price of being free or we are not willing to accept what that freedom may mean that there will be a change. The first thing may then be to be open to the possibility that things may need to change to be free.
To be free then it seems that we have to be clear that we have some things to do.
1) Keep moving forward
To be free we have to move on the next thing. The previous thing will get us stuck. It does not mean that we have to hop around from job to job or from situation to situation but we have to keep moving forward in our emotional, spiritual, physical and mental worlds.This may mean realising that we are not moving forward and it may also mean that we let go of things that are keeping us back. Moving forward is motion and change. Every day is different and we need to find the challenge in today and move towards it – not away from it.
2) Face your demons and discover your angels
Inside each of us, there are fears and hopes. We have to run towards these and unshackle ourselves from that which inhibits us from achieving our true potential. Our fears and hopes are the same thing – just unfulfilled potential that needs to be unleashed and that unstucks us from our current entrapments.To be fearful takes so much energy. People do not sleep and do not relent on ideas that have no value. By just taking a moment to look at a fear and to confront it – you will discover a world in which you are in control. If something is bothering you – go there, investigate it, give it a name and overcome it. If there is something that cannot be done – then start by taking a step at a time and perfecting it.
Hope is almost as bad as fear – but somehow more acceptable. Hope masks the effort required to get to a real result. Stop hoping – start doing.
You need to face your fears and discover your hopes. These things have been lying dormant for too long and you need to confront and express them if you are to be free.
3) Find your creator
Something in you wants to get out. It may be your music, your writing, your photography, your gardening. In you, there exists a creator that wants to make things and express their thoughts and feelings. To create is to be free. If you find them – you can unleash them.
You may have to change to actually do what you believe you are capable of. You may view yourself as the greatest poet – but if you do not write poetry, then you are not a poet. You may think that you are a great piano player – but if you never sit behind a piano and practice then this is simply a dream.
The creator needs to create and it needs to create more than once. It creates in the mind and it creates in the real world. Give your creator expression by putting the pen in hand, before a stack of papers and letting it write, or putting paints in front of a canvas and picking up the brush and letting whatever is inside come out. Think about it. Take it forward and make something that has never existed before – even if it is only for yourself.
4) Excellence beats the systems
Bureaucracy is the administrative anti-thesis to freedom. But to be free you need to realise that there is a bureaucrat in all of us and that this bureaucrat needs to work with other bureaucrats to bring administrative freedom. People talking and walking your piece of paper through the process can beat any bureaucracy. Do not shy away from it – be better at it than others and the whole system improves. Smile while you are doing it – and try to make others smile. We are all in this together.
5) Listen to yourself – and be yourself
Inside of you, there is a genius. Listen to this genius. Inside of you there is also a self critic and a dark side. Do not shy away from this. You need to understand both what is good inside of you and what is not. When you can reconcile these ideas and bring both to the table you can move forward much faster. We are all constrained and held captive in some way by our past and what we think is our own inadequacies. These need to get engaged in and release the past. The key is not to walk away from it – but towards it once again. Deal with your pain, your fear, your hang-ups and your inadequacies. You are more than you think you are…
6) Let the weight go.
Think of a time when you were carefree and had no worries in the world. Compare that with where you are now and what is different. Let the feelings that you have that makes you feel heavy about what has changed go – acknowledge them as feelings that you have – and also that there is no value in having them. If a feeling bothers you – ask yourself what you are getting from having the feeling and if it would be better to do something about it. To be free is to be light enough so that any new weight can be let go of easily.
7) Take a male and a female perspective
In a situation, ask yourself what you would have done if you were a member of the opposite gender. This is useful to learn to be compassionate if you are a woman and to be strong if you are a man. You may think this is the wrong way round – but in reality we have defined these things very wrong in the past and you need to see it from the other side to understand it.
8) Connect unconnected things
Take five things are unconnected and or unrelated and link them. The link may not be easy and may elude you for a while – but you will find it eventually. You will find that there is always a link. There is always a link and a path between everything and if you start looking for these, you will soon find that they are connected in the most unexpected ways.
Whenever you get stuck – get unstuck by asking when you can do to overcome an obstacle. View it as a connection that you are looking for between two points. Your curiosity to find a path will overcome your desire to continue seeing something as an obstacle.
9) Decide if you are being repelled or attracted
When you realise that you are not free – you have to realise that something is holding you. If you are being held – you are being pushed or pulled, repelled or attracted. Something is standing in your way or pushing you forward. The sky might be falling or the earth moving upwards. Whatever the dimension – decide which it is. Are you repelled – moving away from where you want to be, or are you going to where you do not want to be. If you understand this – then change direction. If you want to be rich (attracted), then become rich. If you want to stop being poor (repelled), then stop being poor.
10) Shift dramatically and live incrementally
If you are clear you need to change direction – then do so quickly. If you are happy – then live incrementally – getting better at things every opportunity you have.
11) Be all that you can be.
At some point in life we realise that we are going to die one day and all of a sudden, we start doing more, being more and taking more responsibility. This is good. Some people decide that they need to leave a legacy. Some people want to live forever and some cannot wait for the next life to come fast enough. The real key to freedom is realising that there is no tomorrow and you cannot be tied to the future. This does not mean that you must now stop planning and getting things done. Indeed – to be really free you need to mindful that everything that is important needs to be done today, now and in this moment. However – to be truly free it needs to be done.
12) Release your subjects
We all believe that we are the kings and queens of the universe and that other people are our subjects. This is simply not true. A true ruler lets their people live their lives and release them to do great things. Have you released all your subjects – or do you expect others to serve you. Maybe it is time to be a benevolent dictator and give them a day off. Others, you need to let go completely.
So to get to the end.
Basically – we are really bad as people at being free and we will never really be free. We will always depend on others and attempt to gain advantage over others. To become free-er than we were previously, it is sometimes important to realise that we have to let some of the constraints and limitations go.
It is not all that bad to have to depend on others. As long as you are happy that you are making a contribution and that you are being all that you can be – there is little that can stand in the way of you living a happy and fulfilled life full of gratitude and wonderful living.
It may not always be easy – but then it must at least be fun to try and find an answer.