Social Question

this_velvet_glove's avatar

Is it possible for anyone to be free?

Asked by this_velvet_glove (1137 points ) February 13th, 2013

And I don’t mean ‘single’, of course. Or ‘not in jail’. I mean free. In their soul. And not let all that brainwash stuff change them. Can anyone be free nowadays? Can anyone be themselves, make desicions based on what they want, what they believe, and not what other people try to make them be/believe..?
Is that possible?

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23 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

You’re full of interesting ideas today. Yes, we can be free, but it usually takes some kind of trauma when you’re young to make you say “screw the rules, life’s too short”. I don’t live my life by what other’s expect or believe. I will respect their beliefs and accomodate them, but I make my own rules.

Pachy's avatar

You are free to believe and do anything you want, as long as you’re willing to accept the consequences. Because so long as you’re living in a society alongside others who are also each free to believe and do as they want, there will be consequences.

this_velvet_glove's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe First of all, thank you. Um.. of course life’s too short! Since noone knows when they’re going to die.. It could be now, or in 2 years, or in a hundred. So.. why should one waste their life thinking ‘and what will the others think if I do this, if I say that..’ when they can actually live and be happy? (And sure there will be rules, but as you said, you make your own rules.)

@Pachyderm_In_The_Room Your answer reminded me of something I said once in a conversation about god: ‘I only believe in who I am, what I do, and what happens after that’ I think it’s also good in this case.

But still, I didn’t mean ‘be free to punch the person standing next to you and deal with the trouble you’ll get into’.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@this_velvet_glove I had a second thought. I guess I’m not always free, because some people have to live by their rules. So it does restrict me sometimes.

tom_g's avatar

Great question. Rather than an answer, however, I have a couple of questions:

1. Is this desirable? Do we want to completely ignore what other people think?

2. The more important question for me is: Is it possible for me to be free from what my mind wants me to believe? I find that most of my shackles are of my mind’s creation. The struggle for “freedom” is an internal one.

this_velvet_glove's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Noone can be ‘always free’...

@tom_g 1. not ignore what people think, no. But make desicions according to what your soul is ‘screaming out’ to you. 2. I know. Our worst enemy is our own mind/self sometimes.

LuckyGuy's avatar

You can be free if you have the resources and skills necessary to support yourself.

Once you start needing the help and resources of other people, your freedom begins to be influenced by their wishes.

this_velvet_glove's avatar

@LuckyGuy So noone can be free, unless they live all alone, if that’s ever possible. But what if someone who lives with other people, works, lives the normal, average boring life, finds a way to be free inside? (If, again, if that’s possible)

fremen_warrior's avatar

You’re always a slave to something. All you can do really is minimize the damage. Meditate, take a step back, reflect…

Coloma's avatar

Yes. Of course we have to conform a bit in our interactions with others, in the work place, etc. but…I have managed to live in a manner that allows me to be true to myself gfor a long time now and I really am free, in the sense that I am not dependent on others opinions, approval, and I do not fear my mortality.
To be true to oneself, not attached to approval and to be comfortable with death allows much psychic freedom.

JLeslie's avatar

I lately feel very free. Feeling free probably varies for each individual. For me it is because:

I am not in pain (I lived in chronic pain for a while and it was like a prison).

I have the money to do what I want (I don’t have to work, I can travel, work, see friends, buy things). Money gives you autonomy and power. I don’t mean power to lord over others, I mean power and control over your life. Of course money can not solve everything though.

I live in a country that I feel overall safe.

Kropotkin's avatar

“I can feel free only in the presence of and in relationship with other men. In the presence of an inferior species of animal I am neither free nor a man, because this animal is incapable of conceiving and consequently recognizing my humanity. I am not myself free or human until or unless I recognize the freedom and humanity of all my fellowmen.

I am truly free only when all human beings, men and women, are equally free. The freedom of other men, far from negating or limiting my freedom, is, on the contrary, its necessary premise and confirmation. ...

The materialistic conception of freedom is therefore a very positive, very complex thing, and above all, eminently social, because it can be realized only in society and by the strictest equality and solidarity among all men. ...” – Mikhail Bakunin.

Just to contradict some of the naively individualistic and egocentric notions of freedom put forward so far.

ebasboy's avatar

I dont think one can be free in his decision making. Decisions are shaped by plenty of factors in our environment. A decision is a response to a situation brought about by factors surrounding you. indeed there is no way. Decisions are shaped by experiences. Decisions are more of Ethics, they are aimed at soliciting a conducive enviroment for one’s survival within other entities. We make decisions in the best interest of us and them, all derived from prevailing situations.

thorninmud's avatar

It depends on how you view “freedom”. You seem to be imagining a freedom from others, so that your self can pursue its own agenda; but to my mind, that’s just trading a bondage to others for a bondage to self. That’s an insidious pseudo-freedom.

Another way of looking at freedom is as liberation from both self and other. They’re actually two ends of the same stick, as it turns out. Both are nothing more than ideas. Freedom comes from seeing their idea-ness,

Have you ever had the experience of being in a bad dream, and realizing that it’s only a dream? One way to “free” yourself from that dream is to wake up, of course. But even short of that, just realizing that it’s only a dream, and that all of the characters—self and other—in that dream are your own mind, frees you.

wundayatta's avatar

Depends what you think freedom is. If you mean complete absence of restraint, then no. This is because we are always making our choices within all kinds of constraints. There are physical constraints (gravity). Social constraints (laws, social pressures from others around us). Material constraints (availability of resources such as houses, cars, pencils, computers, etc), and more.

I prefer to see these things as structures rather than constraints, but either word will do. Freedom lies in our ability to work within the structure, and in our creativity in what we do that fits within the structures.

In that sense, we are always completely free to implement the most creative response possible to a structure. Most artists choose to impose a structure because they know that creates freedom. In poetry, a sonnet or a villanelle are difficult structures, and yet if you conform to the structure, which might be seen as an incredible restriction on freedom, you can create great work.

Life is full of structures. Social structures often seem like some of the most onerous. In the Soviet Union, there was much official restraint on expression. Yet those restraints created structures that resulted in some incredibly creativity and great works resulted.

Even Fluther has restraints. No txt speak. No trolling. No insulting. But there are always ways of getting your message out without breaking the rules if you are creative. Sometimes I get pissed that we have rules that are ineffective. But at times like now, I am grateful that we have them so that I can use them to come up with ever more creative ways of insulting a certain person without breaking the rules. I haven’t done it in a while, but I’m working on it. Something will be coming. When that person least expects it. And only because that person has been really mean to me. I only write this because this is a question that person would never read. For obvious reasons. (Duh. Boring. To them.)

So other people are always trying to get us to believe what they want us to think. We don’t have to do that. We don’t have to make a stink about it, either. We can be quietly subversive to their way of thinking, or not so quietly, depending on what we want and what strategy we take. But we are always free, and if we are creative, we can express our freedom equally well under tight and loose restrictions.

Blackberry's avatar

Yes, it’s called being a liberal atheist. Lol.

flutherother's avatar

We are free to do whatever we like but we must choose what to do. Having to make a choice is a limitation. When we are relaxed and doing nothing in particular we are free.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@this_velvet_glove I wrote: You can be free if you have the resources and skills necessary to support yourself”. That does not mean you have to live alone to be free.
What I meant is: you can be free if you are not relying on others to support and take care of you. If you have enough money or a job that pays enough so you can live in comfort, you can be free to act as you wish.
If someone is taking care of you or you are living under someone else’s roof then you need to be aware of their needs and rules if you want to continue. That will limit your freedom.

envidula61's avatar

Of course you can make decisions based on what you believe. No one is in your head and so far as we know, it is not possible to enter your head and force you to believe one thing or another. You are free inside your head and always will be. Only you can take away that freedom.

In Soviet Russia, people found that being in prison was freeing, because it helped them understand this. They were free inside their heads. They could have all their physical freedom taken away, but no one could take away their freedom of thought.

However, if it is possible to take away freedom of though, it is a sure bet that capitalists will figure it out.

RandomGirl's avatar

The only I can be free of all that I’m bombarded with in society is to know what I believe. The only way to be sure of this and not sway with each fad is to have a firm basis for your beliefs. For me, that means being firmly rooted in my faith. Nothing is going to convince me that God doesn’t exist, or that we came from a blob of cells floating around billions of years ago. This surety gives me the ability to say, “You know, you can believe whatever you want, but this is where I stand.” It is freeing!

Now, I know what people are going to say: “All those rules in Christianity are the exact opposite of freedom!”
My response to that would be that it’s not about the rules! (At least not for most Christians. And the legalistic people you find who tell you it’s all about the rules are in a different category all their own.) It’s about the relationship with my Savior, who is the only way to true freedom!

“Therefore if the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.” ~John 8:36

kess's avatar

Absolute freedom is the realisation that you are actually free…

You sacrifice that freedom by persisting is creating an existence that is entirely physical.

josie's avatar

These days, no. Free means free to face life on all fronts on one’s own terms. In our time and place, one is not free to do so, since one is vilified for valuing individualism, and subsidized for being incompetent. Political incorrectness is increasingly regarded as a civil crime. Caprice is a moral virtue. All of this is at best encouraged, and at worst enforced, by the Glorious State. We are all subjects. Doesn’t sound like free to me.
I could be wrong. But I do not think so.

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