“I want more freedom in my life.”
“Freedom of speech.”
I could go on. But you and I both have heard many phrases hinting at the ideas that we either deserve freedom, or can attain it. And if you’re like me, you’ve bought into those ideas.
The day I read the following quote in the novel Blue Castle by Lucy Maude Montgomery (of Anne of Green Gables fame), my idea of freedom began to change.
“There’s no such thing as freedom on earth,” [the main male character, Barney] said. “Only different kinds of bondages. And comparative bondages. You think you’re free now because you’ve escaped from a particularly unbearable kind of bondage. But are you? You love me – that’s a bondage.”
Twisting the constitutional amendments
People insult, threaten and slander others in the name of “free speech.” But the United States constitutional amendment that they are referring to isn’t about being able to say whatever you want, whenever you want, to whomever you want. It’s about the citizens’ right to verbally and openly disagree with the government, if they believe the government is making wrong choices and decisions.
With rights come responsibilities. And these responsibilities make us less free, not more.
We don’t have the freedom to murder. We don’t have the freedom to threaten. We don’t have the freedom to stalk. We don’t have the freedom to insult.
Sure, you may get away with the last one more easily than the others I mentioned, but there is risk involved when you insult someone. They might insult you back, or worse. Besides which, when you release negativity into the world, that negativity also surrounds you and imprisons you.
The “radical” unschooling lie
Parents who supposedly give their children the freedom not to brush their teeth or to eat junk food are actually leading them into bondage – the bondage of ill health and high dental bills. When they give them the supposed freedom of not learning the basic academic skills and knowledge they need to pursue their interests or grow their talents to the fullest extent possible, they are leading their children into a bondage of a mediocre life. Perhaps even worse.
A fair trade?
When we moved out to our rural property, I thought life would be freer. No more being forced to keep our weeds and grass down under a foot in height. Much more space to garden. Fewer neighbors, and less risk of being a victim of crime.
Now we have discovered what a tight bondage homesteading brings. When you have a huge garden and a bunch of thirsty fruit trees, you can’t just up and travel whenever you want. Because we live in the chigger-ridden South, we have to keep the grass in front of our house short in the summer – and there is more to mow than we had at our suburban home.
We are in bondage to taking a five-hour round trip every month to get organic groceries, as opposed to the thirty-minute round trip I used to take once a week. And always be able to have fresh produce on hand.
We traded neighbors with whom we were friendly – even though we didn’t always see eye-to-eye on how our front lawn should look – for neighbors who are surly, bitter, and vengeful. Not all of them, but given there are only four other couples here besides us and I’m talking about the husbands of two of them, that’s half who have taken a disliking to us.
I’m not going to deny that I have my complaints about our life here. But I had complaints when we were living in the suburbs. Perhaps more. We traded one set of bondages for another, a set that made us feel like we were gaining more freedom. But in truth, we haven’t.
I suppose you could say we made a fair trade.
Then, there are the MLM “freedoms”
If you’ve ever joined a multi-level marketing company, you probably heard the phrases “time freedom” and “money freedom” thrown around like spitballs in an unsupervised school room. You may have even thrown them out yourself, at the friends and family you were trying to get to join your business.
But the fact is, having more free time does not equate to “time freedom.” Even the hunter-gathering tribes of South American, Africa, and isolated islands have to craft their days around the day-night cycle. And in the Western world, having more free time usually equates to wasted potential. Most modern people simply aren’t disciplined enough to use their free time in productive ways. Understand that I believe recreational activities to be productive. But I’m talking about activities where you are actually engaged either mentally or physically, not staring numbly at a screen.
My point: if you are wasting time, you are wasting your potential and your life. How does this make you more free?
Besides which, if you’ve ever tried to build an MLM business (which I don’t recommend, by the way) you know that your time is not your own. You have to constantly use it to try to talk to other people about your business opportunity. And when you’re not doing that, you’re either feeling guilty for not doing it or thinking about the next step to take.
Not only is your time not free, neither is your mind!
As for money freedom? Even if the sorry statistics that reveal the tiny number of people who actually make a profit – let alone enough money to enable them to quit their job – were reversed, how does MLM bring you money freedom when you are required to purchase a certain amount of product and/or pay for a service every month in order to be able to get paid for the work you do for the company? When you are being told how to spend your money, that is not freedom.
The only real freedom
Jesus (Yeshua, if you prefer) said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” That truth is that He is the Son of God, Himself being one with the Creator, and that He sacrificed His life and received it back in order to break the bondage of sin off of humanity. Whoever accepts (knows) that truth is set free from the consequences of sin – separation from their heavenly Father.
The only true freedom you will ever find on earth is spiritual freedom, and I just told you how to get it.
Pick your bondage
At the beginning of this post, I quoted Barney from the classic novel, Blue Castle. Valancy, the woman who loved him, responded to his statement with an old quote: “The prison unto which we doom ourselves no prison is.” She’s telling Barney that the bondage we choose doesn’t feel like a bondage.
But, it still is. Whenever we make a choice, we become bonded to the consequences of that choice. Choosing to be single often leads to the bondage of loneliness. Choosing to marry leads to the bondage of having to compromise on the major decisions of life: where to live, how you will spend your free time, and so on.
When my family chose to move to a rural area, we faced different bondages than those which we faced in the suburbs. But I would make the choice all over again, because for me the benefits of living here far outweigh the bondages.
Still, it would be a lie for me to say that we have greater freedom now.
Spiritual freedom through Christ aside, freedom on earth is a myth. The sooner you stop searching for it, the sooner you will find joy, peace, and fulfillment.
Abundance to you,