Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Disclaimer: The following may not be coherent, due to the extreme excess of phlegm in the author at the time of writing. Said phlegm is concentrated in her throat and (it feels like) lungs, despite the large quantities of it that have been expelled and now reside in trashcans scattered across campus, entombed in the thinnest of white paper.

Americans talk about "freedom" and "liberty" a great deal. Some of them think that America is the only free nation, or some such semi-delusion. Others complain about how oppressed Americans are because of the evil government, which view, while it has its basis (*coughphlegmBushPatriotActcough*), is also singularly lacking in perspective, considering how much worse things could be. I'm sure you can all think of the most obvious reference; there are also good ones from the nation's own history. Think various racist policies, and the Communist scare post-WWII. (My APUSH knowledge has largely deserted me--can't remember the name of the guy and the trials... not motivated enough to look it up right now...) I'd say that by and large modern inhabitants of the United States have it really, really good on the freedom front.

That freedom is, of course, of the legislatable kind. Significant though that subset of freedom is, it leaves out a more personal variety. I'm not sure just how to qualify it, but I guess what I'm getting at is social freedom, or perhaps interpersonal freedom. Freedom to do what you want or think is right, or whatever means by which you decide--freedom to choose, rather, for that is the essence of freedom--without the constraints of worrying what others will think or feel. Being a real individual! That's the "American" ideal, right?

I think people don't normally realize that having that degree of freedom entails being completely unconnected with other humans. It's not just the clingy or manipulative relationships that affect our perspective/ideas/choices/priorities: it's every relationship. Whenever we care about someone, whenever we feel duty or love or responsibility (which are awfully intertangled), we make choices based on that. . .

Talk about "bonding" isn't purely metaphorical. Caring about someone is a bond, is binding, is putting bounds on your life.

You cannot be completely free without being completely friendless. Freedom comes at a high, high price: I couldn't pay it, even if I wanted to; I'm not sure any human is capable of purchasing such a degree of freedom. Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to be free / carefree, instead of caring so much. But really, I think the dichotomy is less slave--free than happy--free. Well, those are false dichotomies, because some degree of freedom is vital. But still. I would rather be bound.

No comments: