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So You Call It ....Freedom? Did It Come With A Manual?


Everybody in America knows the word.
Everybody in America knows for sure that they
deserve it. They know they must protect it. They
must fight for it. They even know that they must
defend everybody’s right to have it.

A great many of them just don’t know what the
heck it REALLY is.

I, mean, what is freedom, really. Without flying
into existentialism, dogma or spiritualism, I’m just
going to go out on a limb here and say that it all
starts with our understanding of the word ‘free’.

Regardless of what a dictionary might say, ( I
won’t bother to quote one, so look it up yourself!!)
there are three colloquial uses or understandings of
the same word, here. What ‘free’ means depends on
what’s going on with someone at the time. If
you are talking about money or possesions, ‘free’
means something for nothing. If you’re feeling
opressed, ‘free’ means the lack of restrictions or
barriers. If you are the type of person that cherishes
creativity and accomplishment or ambition, ‘free’
likely means an open field of action.

I’m going to shake that tiny branch I’m hanging
from and say that the monetary use of the word is
one of our many english conundrums. I have no
desire to count how many words we use to mean
several things. So let’s forget about this version
of the word. Likewise, the idea that one requires
freedom to create implies that there is some
restriction present already, meaning the artist feels
creatively oppressed. So really, I believe, only the
second, 'opressive' definition of the word ‘free’ actually

That, I fear, is where all the arguments start.
(And the wars!) Freedom, as a concept, is not quite as
simple and one-sided as people would like to think.
The idea that freedom is it’s own separate thing to
covet and win has caused more death and destruction
than anything our technology or pollution could
ever do. The very idea that freedom is a philosophical
opinion, to be applied as we see fit, is, by itself, so
bogus it has to be the most embarrassing axiom in all
of creation.

The TRUTH about ‘freedom’ (the state of being
free), is that it is not a belief, IT IS A LAW OF
PHYSICS. It is, in fact, no more variable than the
laws of Gravity and Acton/Reaction. Something must
give in every case, or disaster will occur. Consider
this, if you will;

Let’s say I walked up to you, out of nowhere, a
total stranger, and hit you over the head with a
baseball bat.

Now, I think we both agree that’s a rotten thing
to do, but why? You, see kids, If I walk up with the idea
that I’m free to swing my bat anywhere I darn well
please, this impacts greatly on your right to live a
baseball-bat impairment-free life. This also means
that you would have the similar right to drop a grand
piano on my head. These expressions of freedom all
dance around the same issue- what rights we believe
we have.

To take another's freedom means they must try to reclaim it.

Logic alone dictates that one cannot be free from
injury, and yet, free to do harm. If you feel you have
the right to kill, then you surrender the right to live.
You are only free to live as long as all agree they
have no right to kill. To harm someone intentionally
is to deny the other side of the ‘freedom’ coin;


Without responsibilty, freedom does not work at
all. To be truly free from being hurt, everyone must
believe that they have no right to injure. The two
ideas are as simple and permantly connected as they
could possibly be.

You cannot separate freedom from responsibility.
If you do so for the sake of an endeavor, you have
left no choice for those whose freedom you have
abridged. They must conclude that, if they are not
free from your abuse, they must be free to abuse
you in return. If they cannot have safety from you,
you cannot have safety from them. This is the most
basic level of human survivalism.This is also,
historically, humanity’s biggest stumbling block.

This is the Paradox of ‘Freedom’.

Knowledge, ethics and self-discipline are the tools
that enable the Paradox to work. To wit;

- To study and learn to understand the past of
your art or skill will give you more freedom to create
and improve, having their vocabulary to use and
create with, in addition to your own imagination and

- To refrain from embellishing a business deal
unfairly will inevitably protect you from an angry
client suing you over a lie.

- To curtail a voluntary freedom, such as turning
your cel-phone off in a theatre, will guarantee that
you will not be ushered out for disturbing the
audience during the show.

So if you’re concerned about a particular
‘freedom’, ask yourself if you’d like that done to you.
If you wouldn’t, then give it a miss. Then you will
unravel the paradox of freedom and be given the
greatest power that humanity has to wield
honorably in the name of justice.


copyright 2000 Pegwood Arts all rights reserved

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