What is it about freedom that is so appealing to us human beings? Why does Nietzsche spoke so proudly of “us, the free man”?
He said that god is dead, that we killed him, and if he is dead someone asks, who is making the rules? Nietzsche says: Nobody! and if nobody is making the rules, then anybody can make them.
The power to make, create your own rules, the ultimate power, lies in your hands. However:
There are a few men whom slavery holds fast, but there are many more who hold fast to slavery.
We are scared of freedom, we care too much.
We care about how we look, we care about what other people think about us and in doing so we hold fast to slavery as Seneca says.
To make your own rules is to choose what you yourself like and don’t like and be open about it, this is living virtuously and from truth. Your truth.
A free man has a great responsibility, most people scorn freedom. It is a heavy burden, to be free.
A free man must choose on his own accord what is best for him, but how the hell can he know what is best for him?
We can certainly look around and get an idea of what is best. We can learn from the great ones and take what we feel goes with us and simply not put attention to what does not resonates with us. But, the ultimate choice to be anything is ours.
What is deep inside us? what are we? What is it in us that wants to be free?
Maybe, precisely this is what Nietzsche was referring to when he said that if you stare long enough at the abyss, the abyss will stare back. Scary to know yourself so deeply and without filters, but it is in that innermost space where ultimate freedom is. That thing in which we must put our hopes in, is the self (that thing that stares back from the abyss).
Not choosing voluntarily to be free has its consequences.
“Escape from Freedom attempts to show, modern man still is anxious and tempted to surrender his freedom to dictators of all kinds, or to lose it by transforming himself into a small cog in the machine, well fed, and well clothed, yet not a free man but an automaton.”
Sounds eerily familiar doesn’t it?
When we don’t choose to make our own choices, they are going to be made by someone else.
Making choices is hard, it requires courage and a leap of faith must be made.
“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.”
Go lock yourself in your room, meditate, think about your life.
If you are quiet long enough what will happen is that you are going to begin to see all the chatter of your mind, most of it is not even yours, repeating the same old stuff.
It’s not even original, it’s boring, everyone is thinking about the same things: work, my likes on facebook, money, looks, men, women.
It has become blatantly boring We need differences and variety. We need more clash of ideas, from this class comes the creation of new and better ideas. Authenticity will not be welcomed nicely, you can be sure about that, but you have to train yourself in your truth and in your willingness to be free, if freedom is what you want.
“Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance
Of course, as previously said, this requires courage , face your fears of rejection, claim your freedom.
“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”
“Freedom lies in being bold.”
To finish this quick review on quotes on freedom, I’d like to remember Frederick Douglass.
I believe there are very few men who have as him tasted the sweet flavor of freedom more joyously.
Frederick Douglass, as you might already know, was an american slave and later
prominent writer during the 1800’s. He eventually gained his freedom, not without an unimaginable terrible toil of years of wretched slavery and shameful experience . There is a particularly strong passage in his book Narrative that goes:
I therefore resolved that 1835 should not pass without witnessing an attempt, on my part, to secure my liberty. But I was not willing to cherish this determination alone. My fellow-slaves were dear to me. I was anxious to have them participate with me in this, my life-giving determination. I therefore, though with great prudence, commenced early to ascertain their views and feelings in regard to their condition, and to imbue their minds with thoughts of freedom. I bent myself to devising ways and means for our escape, and meanwhile strove, on all fitting occasions, to impress them with the gross fraud and inhumanity of slavery. I went first to Henry, next to John, then to the others. I found, in them all, warm hearts and noble spirits. They were ready to hear, and ready to act when a feasible plan should be proposed. This was what I wanted. I talked to them of our want of manhood, if we submitted to our enslavement without at least one noble effort to be free. We met often, and consulted frequently, and told our hopes and fears, recounted the difficulties, real and imagined, which we should be called on to meet. At times we were almost disposed to give up, and try to content ourselves with our wretched lot; at others, we were firm and unbending in our determination to go. Whenever we suggested any plan, there was shrinking — the odds were fearful. Our path was beset with the greatest obstacles; and if we succeeded in gaining the end of it, our right to be free was yet questionable — we were yet liable to be returned to bondage. We could see no spot, this side of the
ocean, where we could be free. We knew nothing about Canada.
Originally published at stoicanswers.com on March 13, 2018.