I’m now confident as I proceed through the third decade of my life, that everything in the universe has a different meaning for you depending on your point of view. I find that interesting, given that we have a dictionary, which spells out clearly what the definition of certain things are. That said, our lexicon is made up by man as a means in which we can communicate the physical world to others. So, it makes sense that if language, the most common way to express meaning is fabricated by man, then the meaning of those words are also different depending on the person hearing or reading the words. Here’s an example: take the words strong, rich, happy, stressful, and beautiful. My bet is that if you asked 10 people to write down something or someone that meets the definition of the words, very different answers would be given. This phenomenon is one of the reasons it becomes so difficult to run your life, a business or a government—people will interpret what you say and do very differently. However, how can we function as a society without some common understandings? Therein lies the answer to the question why people tend to associate with people they perceive to share their values and beliefs. These groups of people have similar ways of making meaning in the world.
So what about freedom or liberty? Clearly those words have very different meanings to people. From Dictionary.com, freedom means:
-The state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.
-Exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
Sounds fairly easy to understand. But given this definition, we are not free at all. We are not free to move about without a passport. We are not free to earn and spend without taxation. We are not free to consume what we please without the consequence of physical restraint. We cannot engage in mutual exchange without the penalty of taxation or regulation. But, if you were to ask most Americans or others from a similar cultural or governmental region whether or not they had freedom, I suspect the answer would be yes. I guess my definition of freedom is very different.
I suppose it really depends on what freedom means to you. For millions, government health care is freedom. For many of the same people freedom means paid sick leave and a mandated living wage. For others, freedom means exactly what the definition is in the dictionary—exemption from external control, interference and regulation. Does this mean no government or total anarchy? Not necessarily. To believe anarchy would endure with less government certainly shows a dismal view of humanity. However, if the institutions created by man repeatedly infringe on the freedom of its citizens, one can no longer claim to be free under those conditions. Freedom does not come from external sources. It comes from the desire to be free from control and engage with others without restricting their freedoms. I believe while all humans crave freedom, the definitions we have for what freedom is keeps us from achieving it. I also believe many of us keep ourselves from being free by allowing ourselves to be slaves to internal forces.
Freedom, then, must be created internally before one can claim to be free. Stated differently, just because you are not a slave to someone else physically, does not mean you are free. Do you have good health? If not, you are not really free. You are constrained. Do you have a positive mental attitude? If not, you may achieve certain levels of success, but your mind will keep you a slave. Many are slaves to their fears and habits. Visit any mental hospital or check the CDC website to see how many people are addicted to psychiatric medication if you need proof of this. If freedom must be created internally first, before one can truly be free, how does one do it?
I believe the first thing that must happen is the decision to be free. You must decide that you will not be constrained by yourself or external forces (that you can control). Like most things, freedom happens with a choice. Today, I’m asking you to make the choice to be free, truly free. While you not may be truly free from government taxation and regulations in your lifetime, you can make the choice to no longer be constrained by your own behavior and thoughts. Ask yourself “What has to happen for me to feel free?” Write down your answers and then begin immediately taking massive action to attain freedom. Is it more income? Less stress? Less pain? A great outlook on life and humanity? Incredible strength and endurance? Less debt? Whatever you need to feel free, identify it and work tirelessly to be free.