As humanity continues forward in the aftermath of the 2020 election and the various challenges the year brought forth, people are beginning to speculate that their freedoms are being stripped from them in real time. Free will is being treated like an afterthought in modern culture due to a lack of understanding the sacrifices that were made to gain and preserve it. Many are willing to give up free will for free things it seems, but let us examine the importance of free will with the words of the past and speculate how it relates to our situation.
While people will tell you that they cherish freedom, their votes and actions may determine otherwise when examined closely. No one ever wants to be criticized for their personal failures. Participation trophies, No Child Left Behind, and a number of policies have been thrust into American culture in order to prevent people from failing at anything. The problem with this is that if you do not have the freedom to fail, you lose the freedom to succeed in life as well. Freedom is responsibility. Gandhi knew this and so should everyone else. People today simply wish to be taken care of by government or their community. They want to never fail. To never make mistakes. It is impossible to be free without the possibility of failure.
“No one outside ourselves can rule us inwardly. When we know this, we become free.”Buddha
Buddha had lived long before America was even a country, but he understood as we should today that freedom starts within. Free will is not something that can be given to us by any government or community. Freedom is something people must take for themselves and be willing to fight for if necessary. Freedom doesn’t require someone else’s permission nor does it require any documentation. Free will is a choice now much like it was in Buddha’s time.
It is up to the individual ultimately whether they wish to be free or not. People will use numerous excuses as to why they can’t do the things they want. My job makes me work too many hours. If I only had more money. If I only had the right connections. The problem with those numerous excuses is they create mental barriers. People who understand why they want something will eventually figure out how to do it. Freedom can only be grasped by those who truly want it. Actions will determine destiny.
We are ultimately controlled by that which bestows what we seek or removes what we don’t want. If it’s freedom you seek, then wish nothing and shun nothing that depends on others, or you will always be a helpless slave. … Most people tend to delude themselves into thinking that freedom comes from doing what feels good or what fosters comfort and ease. The truth is that people who subordinate reason to their feelings of the moment are actually slaves of their desires and aversions.Epictetus
A major factor in why people are willing to give up their freedoms in any given country even now is the obvious comforts we have in the modern era. People are ultimately slaves because most would prefer an easy life. An easy, safe life is not wrong to desire, but when one decides that comfort and safety are preferrable to the unpredictable life nature provides, they sacrifice their freedoms to someone else.
One can work to make their life more comfortable, but most would prefer if someone else did the hard work for them. People want to lose weight or gain muscle, but won’t go to the gym. They’d rather go on a fad diet or take some magic pill. They’d rather have the government shower them with money than to earn and keep their own. The vast majority of people would not give up their comfort to gain real happiness because life has told them they can achieve it without sacrifice, therefore they trade the freedom they never had to fight for in order to remain comfortable. Think of what is important. What would make you feel better when you look at yourself in the mirror? Is immediate gratification worth the cost of your time and attention?