All entries for Wednesday 22 March 2006

March 22, 2006

Re–evaluating freedom

Until recently I was an aggressive opponent to what the Americans called ďfreedomĒ. It wasnít the ideal that Iíve slated, but more the imposition of the idea on the rest, somehow assuming freedom was a universal currency in human values. It wasnít until I looked into the very idea of freedom that I realised its applicability to all human beings. In Nick Hornbyís novel A long way down there was an episode where a potential suicider sitting on the roof of a tall building experienced intense fear when someone else appeared on the roof. That fear was the fear of inability to choose to die and act upon the choice. It doesnít make sense logically: one holds a genuine intention to kill oneself, what could be worse than death? Turns out itís worse not to be able to do what one wants, even if the wish is to die. Another example follows from the Final Destination I: when it dawned on the survivors that they were doomed to die, the Carter guy decided to kill himself. His reasoning was that he wanted to die by his own choice, having control over his own life as well as death. Thus, between death and losing freedom we seem to think itís better to die than to lose freedom. I donít know which one is natural. The first example shows the character displaying genuine worry about not being able to die. The fear is not cultivated, it is unadulterated. But would that classify as one of our social fears and thus not caused by natural threat? If so, then it would be fair to claim that freedom, as much as a lot of other things that the human civilization takes for granted, is pretty much wrong. Another detail in both of the examples is that people choose freedom when faced with the immediate inevitability of death. Would we choose freedom if nothing was threatening us? Do many people choose to be salves, to be led, to be subordinate?

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