“Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” Not quite. Freedom is the ability to choose. It’s having a choice. Being aware of that choice. Beholding that choice. Respecting that choice. That’s freedom, both duty and delight. Too often we have let addicts define freedom. Really. Normally those who talk about and flaunt their freedom have the least. The addict at first, of course, is escaping all the trappings of everyday life in favor of much more heightened existence.
This deception of powerlessness is pervasive and consequential. It keeps people locked inside themselves. The rubber band of self-loathing pulls us back over and over again from taking the next right step toward our vision of life.
There is a healthy sort of self-loathing that keeps one from taking life too seriously. It maintains one’s humility. But it is ultimately less like loathing and more like honest assessment of our limitations. Loathing may start with this honesty.
...recognizing the vast web of brokenness, greed, manipulation, and so on in the world can easily lead to cynicism (or the right to withdraw from our own battle). We can almost absorb the disenchantment into our own life.
With it comes a convenient sort of justification for not trying. “Why bother, everything is determinedly against the good guys making it.” Behind every success story we find some economic advantage that keeps us further out from the pie.
This is scarcity thinking at its best. There is one pie, and we are kept far at bay. The world’s wealthiest guard the pie with only their closest family and connections getting to it. No matter what we do, how hard we work, how talented we are, we can’t get in.
That thinking of course leads to absolute powerlessness.
We have been told from our infancy that we can do whatever we want. We have been surrounded by myths where the princess gets the prince, where things come together, where we find the dream job doing “what we have always wanted.”
Sounds good, doesn’t it? We should be able to do what we want and get paid for it. Or better yet, we “deserve” it. Do we? And why do we deserve it more than the citizen of Nepal who has to work as a farmer or else his family starves to death?
Doesn’t he deserve to be happy doing only what he wants? Or what he is designed to do? “Well, I can’t help his circumstances there. Only he can figure that out.” Maybe. Or maybe he is onto something that we all need to be reminded of.
There is no way around thinking about work as an obligation. From the beginning of time humans have had to do things they did not want to do in order to survive, sustain, and even prosper. Work was built into the very fabric of life.
Our ancient ancestors may have had the advantage of not analyzing every area of our existence as we do. They lived out of necessity. They did not have the luxury to ponder, at least to the degree we do. Certainly they ached existentially.
Still the men knew that if they did not hunt or gather the family would not eat. They knew there was something driving them toward things they may not have wanted to do, namely survival. And today we are ultimately in the same dilemma.
We work for one reason ultimately: survival. We work for money. The money buys food, clothes, and shelter. We call them necessities. If we don’t work, we don’t have them. We are driven to find ways to make money in order to survive.
That instinct is ultimately good. We should survive. Life is worth surviving for. Think about what the will to survive is actually saying. Life is good. Existence is good. The continuation of life is good. The will to survive is the foundation of hope.