All of our lives we are told that we live in the land of the free, that we, as individuals have all these wonderful freedoms; but we’re not free, not really. Freedom and liberty are two different things altogether, and for the time being I want to talk solely about freedom, and how you don’t really have that…and later I’ll try to explain why if you don’t have freedom you damned sure don’t have liberty.
The idea for this came from a single passage I read in Henry David Thoreau’s book about his time living on Walden Pond in Massachusetts, “Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather, indicates his fate.”
Let me ask you something. How free can a person be when their happiness depends upon being accepted by a group, or by society in general; when you are thought of as being normal? If your happiness is dependent upon having a lot of friends, and not doing or saying anything to alienate them; are you truly free?
I guess I should consider myself blessed that my life circumstances forced me to grow up, pretty much as a loner. I could intermingle with people; talk to them and do things with them, but I could also live happily without them as well. That still carries over today as I can easily talk to people when circumstances require it, but I also perfectly content to sit by myself with not a soul around.
I also tend to speak my mind when I feel that people are saying or doing things that are stupid; although I do tone it down a bit, for if I truly spoke my mind most people would run from me screaming in terror at the things I said…that or turn me in and have me locked away somewhere.
When I leave my home and enter into the teeming mass of society I see nothing but a bunch of prisoners who have no idea that they have very little freedom and absolutely no liberty…yet they, for the most part, appear as content as a herd of cattle grazing in a pasture. Whether it is out of fear of the truth or whether it is due to apathy and complacency, I cannot seem to convince people that they are not free.
When I began thinking about what to say in this essay my mind came up with a single name – Jack Reacher. Some of you may not know who Jack Reacher is, so let me enlighten you. Jack Reacher is a fictional character invented by author Lee Child, and there is a whole series of books written about Reacher’s exploits.
Reacher is the former Commander of the Army’s Military Police who got out of the service and became, basically, a hobo who travels wherever he wants. He does not own a home, a car, or even a cell phone, and he works when he has to, and stays nowhere for any length of time. The only clothes Reacher owns are those which he wears; and he wears them until they are worn out then buys new ones to replace them. Reacher does what he wants, when he wants, and is as close to being absolutely free as a person can get in today’s fucked up world.
Hollywood decided to make a movie about Jack Reacher starring Tom Cruise. I thought Cruise was a poor choice to portray Reacher, because in the books Reacher is a giant with hands the size of baseball mitts; but I have to give Cruise some credit, for he did capture the spirit and essence of Reacher.
In the first Jack Reacher movie, based upon the Lee Child novel, One Shot, there is a scene when Reacher and Helen Rodin, portrayed by Rosamund Pike, (Who I have the hots for), where Reacher tells Rodin the following:
Imagine you’ve spent your entire life in other parts of the world being told every day that you’re defending freedom. You’ve finally decided you’ve had enough; time to see what you’ve given up your whole life for – maybe some of that freedom for yourself. Look at the people, [pointing to a building across the street], tell me which ones are free. Free from debt, anxiety, stress, fear, failure, indignity…betrayal. How many wish they were born knowing what they know now? Ask yourself how many would to things the same way all over again, and how many would live their life like me.
I love that movie simply because of that one scene; oh and because Rosamund Pike is in it. My only thoughts on that narrative is Reacher’s question regarding whether people would do it all again or live like he does; I think most probably wouldn’t change much of anything, for it takes a certain amount of courage to live the way he does in the Reacher novels.
How free can a person be when their happiness is dependent upon:
-How many friends they have
-How much money they earn
-Their social status
-Their concern over what other people think of them
How free is a person when:
-They cannot do or say things without fear of offending others, or violating certain community standards
-They cannot defend what is theirs without violating the rules society has imposed upon them
-Their sustenance is dependent upon the money that is taken from others through confiscatory taxes; which induces a dependency upon those who provide for their existence. This is even partially true for those whose life depends upon keeping their employer happy; for if they do not do so then they will lose their job and be unable to put food on the table and pay their bills.
There are so many ways we are NOT free that I could not even begin to list them all. We can’t drive a motor vehicle without paying for the privilege of doing so; registering our vehicles with the STATE; i.e. government, and obtaining a permission slip, i.e. drivers license, to do so. We cannot carry a weapon for our own protection unless we also pay a fee and obtain a permit; and there are rules governing what kind of weapon we can carry. If you don’t believe me, try openly carrying a pair of nunchaku or a broadsword in public and see how quickly you find yourself being harassed by those who are supposed to serve and protect us and our FREEDOM.
Have you ever heard the term freeholder? A freeholder is one who holds the outright title to the land they live on; meaning that the land they occupy is not subject to taxation or any other impositions by society or government.
Do you think, even after you’ve paid off your mortgage, that you own your home? A freeholder would…but you don’t. A freeholder holds allodial titleship to the land they live on and the dwellings erected upon that land. Allodial titleship is the concept where the owner of real property, i.e. land, has no superior landlord; that their land is owned free and clear of any taxes or rules regarding how they utilize their property.
Tell me again how free you are when they can, and will, evict you from your home if you do not pay your property taxes. Tell me how free you are when city codes dictate what you can do on your property, or require that you obtain a permit to make improvements upon it. If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, (with the constant modifications he made to Monticello) he would say, “Building permit? I don’t need no stinking building permit; I OWN my land and my home and can do whatever I damned well please with it!”
People claim to be free; to love the freedom America has to offer – then, by their very actions, they seek to deny freedom to others. What is political correctness if it is not society trying to limit or restrict the freedom to do and say things that others might be offended by? Is that NOT a restriction upon the freedom of speech and expression? How can you claim to love freedom, then turn around and tell people you can’t say that, you can’t display that image?
This whole thing of taking down the Confederate Battle Flag, and the removal of monuments dedicated to Confederate leaders and heroes is a perfect example of how political correctness has run amok. People say that those images offend them, and to them I reply with something actor Stephen Fry said, “It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what.”
Freedom, in and of itself, is not an all inclusive concept, it is but a single right that is covered by the umbrella we call liberty. Liberty, in a State of Nature, is the ability to do whatever one pleases, even if it violates the rights of others. Rightful Liberty is best defined by something Thomas Jefferson said in a letter to Isaac Tiffany in a letter he wrote in 1819, “…rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will, within the limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.”
You do not have the right to live your life without being offended; which therefore gives you the right to prevent others from doing or saying things you find offensive. You DO have the right to respond to things you find offensive, but you CANNOT deny others the right to express their views, or display images you find offensive; and when government steps in and protects the feelings of those who are offended by passing laws restricting things that others find offensive, then government itself is tearing down the liberty is was supposedly erected to secure to all.
You see, Jefferson affirmed that belief in something he also said to Isaac Tiffany, “…I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’; because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.”
Liberty is the ability to live our lives as we please so long as our actions do not prevent others from being able to live their lives the same way. What I do, or say is not subject to your being offended by it; you cannot deny my rights to do or say anything simply because you do not LIKE what I do or say. You CAN deny my rights when what I do or say brings harm to you, or denies you the right to do or say whatever you want.
If I wish to carry a gun on my person for my own protection, that is my right, and I don’t need your, or government’s permission to do so. The moment I have to ask permission from someone to exercise a right, I’ve lost that right.
People mistakenly think the Bill of Rights grants them their rights, and that government is supposed to protect those rights.
The Bill of Rights was ratified, (meaning it was added to the constitution), in 1791. So are you telling me that prior to 1791 not a single person in the United States had any rights; that their rights were born when a piece of paper had words put down upon it outlining those rights?
Are you that obtuse that you actually believe that nonsense?!?
Our rights come from our Creator and they are hereditary; meaning they are passed down from one generation to the next; dating back to the time when man first made his appearance upon this blue orb circling the Sun. Thomas Paine expressed that concept thusly in his book The Rights of Man, “The rights of men in society, are neither devisable or transferable, nor annihilable, but are descendable only, and it is not in the power of any generation to intercept finally, and cut off the descent. If the present generation, or any other, are disposed to be slaves, it does not lessen the right of the succeeding generation to be free.”
If I have the unalienable right to be free, if I have the unalienable right to enjoy the blessing of liberty, what would you call a society, or a system of government that seeks to deny those rights to me, if not tyrannical?
Paine also said something you need to pay close attention to, “The end of all political associations is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man; and these rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance of oppression.”
Long before our constitution was written, long before the Bill of Rights was added to it, Samuel Adams wrote the following, “Among the Natural Rights of the Colonists are these First. a Right to Life; Secondly to Liberty; thirdly to Property; together with the Right to support and defend them in the best manner they can–Those are evident Branches of, rather than deductions from the Duty of Self Preservation, commonly called the first Law of Nature–”
Read that again, for in it Adams says that not only we have those rights, we ALSO have the right to DEFEND THEM IN THE BEST MANNER WE CAN!
Our Bill of Rights neither grants us our rights, nor does it protect them. Look at it this way. The constitution is a contract among the people of this country to establish a system of government with certain powers to do certain things. The Bill of Rights are additions to that contract; placing further restrictions upon government; telling them that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES are you to infringe upon or violate any of these rights.
But the Bill of Rights is just a fucking piece of paper, it offers no protection for our rights from a government that does not care about the limits its creators have imposed upon it. It is up to us; you and me, to defend our rights; and if you choose not to do so, then you are saying you voluntarily subject yourself to a system that can, at any time, violate or infringe upon ALL your rights.
I am not saying that by me saying these things I am free and you aren’t. I am just as much a slave to the system as you are; but the difference between you and I is that I recognize that I’m a slave and I speak out, trying to awaken others of their pitiful existence as cattle; with the government being the ones herding you around; telling you the extent to which you can enjoy the blessing of liberty.
In his pamphlet Common Sense, (which fanned the flames of independence when it was first published), Thomas Paine writes, “Society in every state is a blessing, but GOVERNMENT, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one…”
When our government tells us what we can say, when and where we can pray, when and where we can carry arms for our defense; or under what circumstances we can use those arms for our defense, when it violates the privacy of our homes by monitoring our private communications, when it can send agents to break down our doors and arrest, or kill us, based upon the fact that we put certain substances into our bodies…we are not free, and our government is run by tyrants.
If you can’t, or won’t see that, I pity you…I really do.
In his book The Politics of Obedience, Etienne de la Boetie aptly describes the people of America today when he says, “But O, good Lord! What strange phenomenon is this? What name shall we give it? What is the nature of this misfortune? What vice is it, or, rather, what degradation? To see an endless multitude of people not merely obeying, but driven to servility? Not ruled, but tyrannized over? These wretches have no wealth, no kin, nor wife nor children, not even life itself that they can call their own.”
Yet these same people proudly proclaim that they are free, and they rejoice in the process of choosing a new set of slave masters every so often at the voting booth. If it weren’t so sad and pathetic I could laugh at the whole thing; but I can’t laugh, because their ignorance and apathy affects my ability to live my life a free man.
In closing I’d like to share something pretty deep that my friend Misty Graham posted to her Facebook wall. This is kind of long, but it is well worth reading and thinking about. So until next time, I leave you with the words of Milton Stanford Mayer from his book, They Thought They Were Free:
But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.
And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jewish swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in—your nation, your people—is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.