Posts Tagged ‘Freedom’

“Bold Run”- Now at the West End Gallery


“Most people are convinced that as long as they are not overtly forced to do something by an outside power, their decisions are theirs, and that if they want something, it is they who want it. But this is one of the great illusions we have about ourselves. A great number of our decisions are not really our own but are suggested to us from the outside; we have succeeded in persuading ourselves that it is we who have made the decision, whereas we have actually conformed with expectations of others, driven by the fear of isolation and by more direct threats to our life, freedom, and comfort.”

― Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom


Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose
Nothin’, don’t mean nothin’ hon’ if it ain’t free, no no

Kris Kristofferson, Me and Bobby McGee:


What is real freedom?

I can’t say for sure. Wish I could.

Lately, I have been thinking about the 1941 book from Erich Fromm, Escape From Freedom. In it, Fromm writes about that we actually have a fear of freedom.  Real freedom requires personal responsibility for our decisions and actions and creates an almost unbearable anxiety in man. Real freedom means living without a safety net, where we decide who and what we are, what we want from life, where we are held accountable for each decision we make.

Put that way, freedom sounds much more perilous.

As a result, we have fostered a desire to be told what we should be and what we should do. Fromm makes the point that we want someone to make the decisions that guide our lives while maintaining the illusion that we have freely made them.

“Modern man lives under the illusion that he knows ‘what he wants,’ while he actually wants what he is supposed to want. In order to accept this it is necessary to realize that to know what one really wants is not comparatively easy, as most people think, but one of the most difficult problems any human being has to solve. It is a task we frantically try to avoid by accepting ready-made goals as though they were our own.”

A life of real freedom is scary and difficult so it is always tempting to just fit in, to accept a bit of comfort and security in exchange for losing a large degree of that freedom. Doing this make us susceptible to falling prey to those with less than honorable intentions.

“Escape from Freedom attempts to show, modern man still is anxious and tempted to surrender his freedom to dictators of all kinds, or to lose it by transforming himself into a small cog in the machine, well fed, and well clothed, yet not a free man but an automaton.”

The concept of this book seems to be playing out in real time lately.

I don’t know that we, myself included, understand the concept of real freedom. I have tried to shape and live a free life but have I succeeded?

I don’t know.

I will continue to look for an answer but in the meantime, here’s this week’s Sunday Morning Music. It’s I Want to Be Free, an old Leiber and Stoller hit first sung by Elvis Presley in the 1957 film Jailhouse Rock. While Elvis does a fine job with the song, I much prefer this version from Robert Gordon who had a nice run as a rockabilly artist with several memorable albums in the 1980s. Here, I think he fills in the blanks that Elvis left in his version.

Give a listen and have a good day. And take a minute to think about what you think real freedom is.



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Hard Freedom

GC Myers- Real FreedomI am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.

Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, 1966


How do you define freedom?

It’s a word that’s thrown around and owned by groups of every political persuasion and we as a people like to sing out the claim that we are the land of the free.  But what is it?

Is it simply the freedom to speak our opinions or move freely?  Or is it a freedom to live in a manner that we choose?

It’s a hard and multi-faceted question.  Probably more than I should be biting off here since, to start with, I don’t know that I can even define the reality of the word.  I mean, is it even a real thing or merely an accepted illusion, something that sounds pretty good in theory but never really becomes real?

At the end of the day, I do think that any definition we give is based on our own personal preferences, our own need to rationalize our life choices and still feel pretty good after all is said and done.  We choose our freedom.

There’s a lot more to be said about this subject.  In fact, I’ve written many more paragraphs that won’t show up here today just because I couldn’t decide which direction to take my thoughts. But I wanted to at least broach the subject to talk about it in the context of the new painting at the top of this page, a 12″ by 12″ canvas that I call Hard Freedom.

In this piece, I see freedom as a hard choice, one that requires a willingness to step away from group thought and definition. It is built on hard decisions to reject anything that wants to impinge on the sovereignty of your freedom.  As a result, it can be an isolating thing, one that requires constant vigilance to insure the protection of that freedom.  In this freedom, the price that is paid is in being ultimately responsible for every decision made.

Real freedom has very few safety nets and can be a scary thing.  I am sure a lot of you seeing this island might think of it not as a place of freedom but more like a prison.

And that’s okay.  My freedom is most likely not the same as your freedom.

As I said, this subject has a lot of places to take us and maybe in the days ahead we can search these places.  For this morning, I will leave you with these scrambled half-thoughts along with the painting at the top and the words of Robert Heinlein.

And a question: What does your freedom look like?

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