“If people base their identity on identifying with authority, freedom causes anxiety. They must then conceal the victim in themselves by resorting to violence against others.” ~Arno Gruen
Freedom is both the easiest thing to gain and the hardest thing to hold onto. We can courageously declare ourselves free in one breath, while in the next breath meekly kowtow to authority. It’s like an Orwellian doublespeak somersaulting through our heads: freedom is debt-slavery, freedom is obeying orders, freedom is paying taxes against our will, freedom is keeping our mouth shut when a cop speaks, freedom is forcing our will onto others, freedom is codependence on an unhealthy authoritarian state. Really?!
Cognitive dissonance is our ego’s saving grace. We convince ourselves we are free, even when we’re not, so that our pride isn’t harmed. We convince ourselves we are free so as to maintain our comfort zones. We convince ourselves we are free because if we’re not free then our existence is null. In the end, freedom becomes a cliché concept we toss around inside of the very box we’re trying so desperately to think outside of.
When it comes down to it, liberty begins within. It begins by first admitting that we must free ourselves from our inner tyrant before we can give birth to our inner liberator. It begins by digging deep and ousting the king trying to rule, decommissioning the commissioner trying to micromanage, and banishing the warden trying to keep order. It begins by not talking like rigid authoritarians to ourselves.
Let’s break it down…
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
We live in an age of hyper-conformity. It goes widely unrecognized because it has become the rigid “reality” that modern culture indoctrinates into its members. It’s even considered admirable somehow to be “well-adjusted to a sick society.” Of course, our cognitive dissonance usually prevents us from admitting that such is the case. This is because we are primarily psychosocial animals who create a pleasing-to-others false self in order to alleviate the deep-seeded fear of being hurt or abandoned by others. Which is fine if one lives in a healthy culture. Not so fine if one lives in a profoundly unhealthy, unsustainable, authoritarian culture such as the cultures dominating the world today.