Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Human Freedom

"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose", was the chorus line of the popular Bobby McGee song I sang hitch hiking across Canada and the US before bicycling across Europe. It was a good travelling song back when the culture claimed the new God was "erotic love of a woman or woman".  The Beatles song said it all, "All you need is Love" and the song wasn't talking about Agape.
 Those were the days before divorce and the guilt and shame of the social devastation of realpolitic, legal theocracy, rabid materialism, individualism and the destruction of family and community. All this gave the  state unprecedented power over the individual. Whereas the totalitarianism of communism had set out to intentionally destroy family as the greatest threat to state power, in the west the unrealistic expectations and divinization of the romantic love and erotic love effectively did the same without any apparent 'intention'.
All the while, the individual in the play of events of life felt they individually were 'choosing' a mate and freely choosing a career.  Today the guilt and shame is as great for the failure of career after career in the economic downturns brought on by the corruptions and white collar gambling of wall street, no different than the gangster backed earlier unregulated casinos of Los Vegas.  Just when anthropologists were describing North America as a culture of serial monogamy the pundits of the work force were letting graduating students know that they'd not have one career but three at least.  Whole industries were disappearing like spotted owls while as more strove to save the habitat of an unknown neut, ghost towns flourished where people once dreamed.
In all there was the 'guilt' and 'shame' associated with 'choice' and the all powerful claiming arrogantly their 'success' at the "game of life'. Both were just rolling the dice and the House had the fix in on the game.
The religious speak of grace where the irreligious speak of luck.  The spiritual pray and the aetheists buy more insurance and see psychologists to reassure them they maintain their saniety no longer trusting 'allighment to god' as a measure but instead relying on statistics and means.  Normalcy, that ever changing elusive butterfly, is chased with nets all the while the bats are free in the belfry.
But I did not choose where I was born.  I do not choose where and when I die.  How strange that lacking any real choice over these imponderables I should conclude I have choice or which stick of gum I buy.
However if I believe, as eastern religions teach, that we are reincarnations and as a group collect together in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Bardot, to plot this present life, or drama, then perhaps I had choice before this life.  The murderer one life, murders, while next she is murdered.  The linearity of the reincarnation ideology, extant in old testament and new is limited by the dualistic minds of the human instrument.

If there is a God and God is omniscent then he knows past, present and future. Further if I know God I might well know how the story ends so might change it if there are indeed miracles.  The whole shebang hinges on the idea of choice and freedom.
The Darwinians and especially the pseudoscientists of similiar ilk would dictate determinism not as a pillar of scientific rationalism but as it's own religious doctrine.  Yet determinism was but  the limited tool of analysis, never meant to be the end all and be all of existence but rather a measure against which to judge data.  As so often occurs in the sciences when they are imbued with religious fervour by their lesser adherents, determinism becomes 'fate' and hearkens back to the ancient Gods and the ideas of 'pride'.
Meanwhile Christians believe in 'divine will' and 'god's plan".  And all along we are encouraged to choose 'right' from 'wrong' and do 'good' rather than 'evil' and especially today ensure our science is 'evidence based' all the while the courts flounder in the death of 'facts' and a failure of the very process  to stay abreast of the physics and discoveries of neurology that challenge daily the process of political and judicial systems. The very fabric of the 'systems' are judged inadequate by prevailing social movements and vague 'protests'.
It is not surprising that new nations reject the appearance of 'democracy' for 'sharia' law because freedom may well be an illusion. Is this then reactionary?  Christianity replaces animism in Africa and Communism in the East.
So what is freedom.  Is the only freedom I have that which Milton said that Satan refused to take.  Satan in "Paradise Lost" was described as prefering to look at his own shadow rather than the light of God.  Arrogance and individuality are the antithesis of community.  In the secular this once sacred notion becomes the State against the Individual. But do either have any real freedom.  We may only be observers with little capacity to 'change' the events of our individual lives versus our collective lives. All the while  our 'narratives' may express the grandiosity of individualism.
I may well be the 'voice over' on the cartoon of my life. This 3 d holographic game I am a part of may well have players outside the realm of my understanding so that today's computer once again gives us the view that there is another world out there no differnt than the child's realization of the life within the pond scum of the science kit microscope.
The question Is there a God is naturally followed by 'is their freedom'.  For I can have no 'pride' without choice' and can I truly have 'guilt' or even 'shame' without choice as well.  I might have 'subjective' experience, being a 'legend in my own mind' but in the community of 'objective' reasoning with so many conflicting imperatives I might well not actually have any real 'choice'.  There are astrophysicists who questions the very notion of 'motion'.  Perception is such a powerful constraint on the ancient ideas of the 'way things are'.
I exist amidst happy cabbages who like me struggle to collect as many toys and the appearance of power before death which is inevitable yet is it an 'end'.  And  I did not choose where I was born so what choice do  I truly have when I can't even choose where I die. I have met so many suicides who found to their dismay like soldiers the bullet did not have their name on it and they woke alive though broken or wounded, but more often than not, having survived their momentary insaneity ,wanting to live.
In terror we linger long over the choice of one breakfast cereal over another and claim to have picked a mate or an automobile, a job or a house, but did we? And is it true or illusion? And if it is just distraction then what really is the purpose, if there be one, of this existence.
C.S. Lewis, asked "why are you talking to the wall, when you really want to talk to  the architect?"  If I have a choice I surely would ask, "Take me to your leader" because I so often feel an 'alien in a strange land' and would ask directions of the way 'home'.

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