Wednesday, December 29, 2010

All Freedom Has

Prototype of The Statue of Responsibility
"All freedom has a 'from what' and a 'to what.' The 'from what' of man's freedom is his being driven, and the 'to what' is his being responsible, his having a conscience."

- Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning

* * *
Too often we focus on the "from what" in describing freedom: freedom from tyranny - be it governmental or personal - freedom from servitude, from pain, from guilt, from anything that obstructs, thwarts or diminishes our lives, our sense of well-being, our sense of Self. And it is good and right to want to be free of such limitations. But the drive away from something necessarily includes the question - To what end? Is simply away enough, or musn't it also include a vision of what life will be like once that freedom is achieved?

For the fucked, we stay focused on the getting away, the freedom fight, the majesty of our suffering. We lack the imagination required of conscience, of acting in accordance with that first impulse to believe in freedom. Us fuckers lack the freedom of responsibility. We only know the fight. We don't know what to do when the fight is against ourselves. We devolve into arbitrariness - equating freedom with mere impulsiveness and instant gratification.

* * *

As I age my knees literally creak. What were once freckles are now liver spots and my back is a busted hinge. So it goes. But as I age so grows my sense of responsibility - not only to myself, my children, my friends, but to Life.  Perhaps it is a function of the aging process - the narcissism of youth a necessary step on the path; or perhaps, and I think more likely, this is simply how it worked out for me. No one has to wait to be responsible for their life. There is no certificate required to live one's life out loud. But it does require the ability to be awake and to recognize that most of what we think of as freedom is an excuse to behave badly, to show poorly, to get a pass on our obligations. The mere mention of the word obligation sends shudders down the spineless spines of fucked fuckers - "Hey man, I ain't obligated to no one. You feel me?"

And yet without obligations, without responsibility we can never be free.

Oxymoronic, I know.

But "to what" are we striving? The answer me and my liver spots have come up with have been spoken thousands of times in thousands of tongues and is hardly new. Aurelius called it logos. The same root can be found in Frankl's Logotherapy. Joseph Campbell described it as a communion with the elemental mystery of consciousness. Rumi referred to it as his beloved. My own shorthand calls it The River, but by any of these names it refers to a point beyond knowing, but is instead a discovery of one's own unique contributions to the ongoing pulse of Life. We are whole and discreet, utterly unique and at the same time we are part, a small part of a much vaster whole. We live in the immediate, and yet the extent to which we participate in the infinite is determined by our willingness and ability to be responsible for our thoughts, words, deeds.

If you are fucked you have abdicated that responsibility.

* * *

"Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness."

Be as free as you think you are. Until you are responsible, your freedom is a self-soothing lie, and is the reason you are fucked.


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