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Is Freedom an Illusion?

Updated on July 21, 2017
Stella Kaye profile image

Stella is interested in philosophical, social and religious concepts and has written several articles on this subject

Free As A Bird?

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The Perpetual Search For Freedom

True freedom ends at birth and begins when we die. This statement may appear rather harsh but read on: for the vast majority true freedom can never exist at all in this life or will exist only as a figment of their imagination. Everyone likes to think they're free and that they have total control over their lives nowadays but all this is merely an illusion. Freedom and reality are incompatible. We suppose we're all born free but that's where freedom ends and illusion begins. From the very day of our birth, our lives are dictated by the values and beliefs of the families, cultures and religions we're born into. Our choices are limited by our parent's lifestyle and the restrictions imposed on us. From primary school upwards we're constantly swamped with more and more educational obligations, finally culminating in the long-term commitments of career, marriage, mortgage and other monetary millstones once we enter adulthood.


'Stop The World... I Want To Get Off!'

'Escaping Over the Rainbow to Somewhere Peaceful!
'Escaping Over the Rainbow to Somewhere Peaceful! | Source

Born Free, Living Free, Forever Free?

Nowadays, in most of the western world, we take for granted that we're free from enslavement and oppression but nevertheless very few have the power to be truly free. Those born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouths can perhaps be free to live the lives they choose; they can afford the lifestyle they want without having to work for it and good luck to them - may they use their fortunes wisely.

As to the rest of us, to enjoy any sense of freedom we need at least three things: time, money and health. There are very few points in life where this vital combination is possible. When we're young, we may have our health and plenty time but no money. When we're older we may have money and health but we're busy bringing up a family so there's no time for freedom. And in later years we may still have plenty of time and money but then our health declines and doesn't allow the freedom we've longed for all our lives. Life is too short for any real freedom in the true sense of the word to even being to evolve. Responsibilities and worries ensnare us every step of the way so that life becomes a treadmill we come to resent.

Who can say when they wake up in the morning that they're truly free? The alarm clock tells us when to get up and we have to fit in with work schedules and transport timetables every day of our working lives. There are bosses we have to be nice to and people we meet during the course of our daily lives that we don't particularly like but have to tolerate for the sake of our jobs. We put up with spouses we cannot abide, for the sake of our children and live in places we don't like because that's where our workplace is. Where is the freedom in this?

A prisoner in his cell wakes to routine; his jailer locks him in each night and he gets his food, shelter and clothing provided. The free man has the keys to his own door and locks himself in at night and has to go to work the next day so he can pay for his food, clothing and shelter. In reality, the situation is not that different. The prisoner has been denied his liberty but both are slaves to routine. We all have our little box we call home whether it's a cell or a flat and we all have to answer to others and fall in with their arrangements, whatever our situation in life.

In this modern era, we assume that technology will give us more freedom – freedom from what? If anything having at least three forms of communication links i.e. landlines, mobile phones and email, means that the individual is at everybody else’s beck and call all the more. The concept of freedom becomes even more elusive when intrusion from others can happen at any time and at any place. We have perhaps exchanged any chance of true freedom for round the clock availability.

In the USA there are at least ten place names called ‘Freedom,' the name itself hints that the pioneers who established these places were once oppressed and held the hope that they'd some day be free. It's still a hope that's unobtainable in the modern world because the way society is structured largely prevents the freedom of the individual. We're all cogs in a wheel that keeps on turning from the day we're born to the day we die.

The hope Of An Afterlife May Compensate For A Lack Of Freedom In This Life!

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The Futile Search For Freedom

'Stop the world... I want to get off!' How many times have you heard someone say this phrase? Perhaps you've said it yourself. But apart from the occasional holiday for the lucky few (and you'll still take your worries on holiday with you!) there's no real freedom to be found in this life. There's no escaping the 'rat race' and the shackles that bind us to society. Some may escape by living off-grid in a faraway location but it takes considerable strength of mind to opt out of society. Most will accuse you of running away from your responsibilities. Ordinary folks may find a temporary solution by using alcohol and recreational drugs to escape from reality and compensate for the freedom they so crave that is clearly unobtainable.

The religious among us are often content to put freedom on hold indefinitely in the hope of better things to come. True or not, ' getting your reward in Heaven,' is no real compensation for living a miserable existence now.

We're all cogs in a wheel that keeps on turning from the day we're born until the day we die.

— Stella Kaye

The Celebrity Lifestyle

Many ordinary folks envy the lifestyle of the super rich and famous. Why? Do you really think their lives are any better than yours? They may, in fact, be worse. They have to struggle more to stay in the limelight and being forever in the public eye, true freedom may be just as unobtainable as it is for you.

Celebrities have far more pressure on them than the ordinary boy or girl next door - who might be just as talented and good looking. They'll have deadlines to meet and will need to keep their weight in check for the next photo shoot. They'll only be as good as their last hit, goal or movie and with all this pressure, is it any wonder that bright stars burn out so soon?

Their huge earnings may seem outlandish but are necessary to maintain their lifestyles. They still need financial planning and reliable managers to keep afloat, just like everyone else. Freedom for them might mean something as simple as going shopping to the local supermarket and being unrecognised - something that the ordinary person takes for granted.

Celebrities are no more or less happy than the rest of us and are just as enslaved. They rarely reach old age and have far more relationship breakdowns than ordinary people. Freedom for them is just as elusive. Autobiographies of the rich and famous indicate that many things are still lacking in their lives - however opulent their lifestyle - and freedom is always a prominent element.


Life Is Short!

Freedom Poll

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Look... You Can Buy Freedom!

© 2015 Stella Kaye

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