Wednesday, May 23, 2007

more ramblings on freedom

why should people be free?
they are stupid and can't think for themselves
they need someone to tell them what to do

...but just maybe it is only because they (we) have always been told what to do that they (we) won't think for themselves. Just maybe if we respected everyone's right to freedom we would redeem ourselves.

Humor me in this. Imagine a woman who has an abusive partner. He creates fear in her, whittles away at her self respect and self image to the point where she needs him to tell her who she is. He does this in so many different ways, it is all-encompassing, present behind their every interaction. Maybe he's one of the explosive tempered sort, just blows up and starts hitting her when he's angry. But even if his threats aren't of physical violence, he still threatens her with something, if he's smart it's whatever she fears the most. He probably blames her for his anger, and she believes him. She blames herself for the bruises he inflicts upon her body.

What needs to happen in this relationship is that they both need to learn that we are all responsible for our own actions. He needs to stop blaming the alcohol, his wife, his job, or whatever else excuse he finds for causing him to do what he does. She needs to find it within herself that she is an autonomous person, and worthy of respect. She can't force him to stop the blaming and excuses, but she can recognize them for what they are. She can't prevent him from belittling her and painting a weak pitiful picture of who she is, but she can choose not to believe him, to paint her own picture of herself.

This is what citizens should do as well. We need to stop believing the media and the government when they tell us we are weak and stupid. We need to see the threats as a play on our fears and a means of controlling us. We need to recognize the blame game and not play by those rules. Democracy makes us responsible for the government, we have to take back that responsibility and do something with it, or else admit we are not responsible and they can't blame us for their mess any more. How long do we take the abuse? Are we the beaten down wife who dies after a lifetime of misery and pain? Or not...

At this point it inevitably pops into my mind that the battered wife is at most danger when she tries to leave, and there's the fear again. I know you feel it too. Fear is what gives them control. Are we so afraid that we don't deserve freedom? Oh, durnnit, there's that self-doubt. I am a human person, autonomous and free. I have free will and my actions are my own. Nobody can make me do anything unless I give them the power to control me. They can take everything else away from me, but I'm still human and responsible for the effect my actions have on the world in which I live. The choice not to act is as much an action as anything else I can do, and I must accept responsibility for the effects of my inaction as well. And, perhaps most importantly, I am not responsible for the actions of others, no matter how they may attempt to force the blame upon me.

I owe it to my children to teach them by example. Do I want them learning how to submit and obey and conform to the good citizen model, to be a compliant worker and never question authority? Or do I teach them how to believe in themselves and stand up for their freedom? There's that fear again. I'm Mommy, and it's my number one responsibility to keep them safe and happy. Does that mean I lie down and take the beating, knowing that sometime later my children will have to either take it or fight it themselves? Honestly, I can't answer that question. I'm too afraid.

Happiness... are most people happy? How many millions of people are or have been taking antidepressants of one sort or another? Are the abused people who don't know, won't admit, they are abused happier than those who recognize it as abuse? I know that when it was I in a co-abusive relationship, denial did not make me any happier. It was when I started to recognize the denial that I allowed myself to do something about my life and was able to change the situation in which I found myself. When do we (humanity in general) finally recognize that we are still responsible for our actions, even when we give others the power to control us? When do we recognize that we are not responsible for anyone's actions but our own? That has to be the first step, doesn't it? If we can somehow get rid of the control issue baggage and believe in ourselves, maybe we can then respect everyone else's right to believe in themselves as well.

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