"My God, a moment of bliss. Why, isn't that enough for a whole lifetime?"
—Fyodor Dostoevsky, White Nights
Almost none of the liberty-minded people I talk to actually intend or expect to be free during their life-time. They argue about what freedom means, what rights are, and what kind of society a free society ought to be. They debate economics, ethics, and politics. They have a million schemes for, "promoting freedom," and clamor to be part of every liberty-oriented program, seminar, rally, retreat, meeting, and movement. They know that none of these schemes are going to work; they don't expect them to actually make them free. If they really expected to be free, if they thought freedom was imminent they'd spend their efforts deciding what to do once they were free.
I know many individuals who have made themselves free. Very few ever talk about their freedom or how they achieved it. They are too busy living their lives as free individuals to talk about it.
When you've lived as long as I have you discover most people are either doers or talkers. The doers do what they intend to do and if they ever talk about what they do it will only be after they have done it, and that won't be often. The talkers are always talking about what they are going to do, but never seem get around to doing it. While I would never actually say it, I am sorely tempted to tell the talkers, "just shut-up and do it, and tell us about it when you've done it."
I'm putting that impulse aside for this article, however, because I'm very interested in exactly what those who consider themselves liberty-oriented want freedom for. What is it they want to do they need freedom to do?
Here is your opportunity, my liberty-minded friends, to say what you will do with freedom when you have it. Suppose you wake up tomorrow and everything you believe is keeping you from being free has somehow been eliminated. It's your first day of total freedom and you can do anything you choose to do, and nobody will stop you or interfere in what you are doing.
What will you do? How will you live your new-found life of liberty?
Things To Consider
While you're thinking about that, here are some things that will be different when you are free:
You are going to be responsible for everything in your life. No one else is going to be there to handle your emergencies; there will be no 911. Maybe not at first, but eventually there will be private agencies to provide fire protection, ambulance service, possibly even personal protection, and you can take advantage of any of them if you can pay for them. They won't be "free."
If you decide to marry and have children all their care will be up to you. You will have to provide them everything from medical care to education. Of course, that's the way those who truly want freedom want it to be, but I'm convinced that many who think they want freedom really want freedom from responsibility, safety, and guarantees.
If you intend to be worth anything in this world, to yourself or anyone else, you are going have to do something productive. You are going to have to produce a product or service that others are willing to pay for. Producing is not the same as "having a job." When you are free you will actually have to be worth something to whoever pays you for your product or service, which might by an employer or your own customers. This is actually true whether you are free or not, but if you are free, if you expect to enjoy your freedom, this principle is absolute. Living is doing (not just existing) and freedom is freedom to choose what you do.
I cannot know why you want to be free but many people mistake hedonism (free to do whatever gives one pleasure) and subjectivism (free to do whatever one has a desire, whim, or passion to do) for freedom. Most social systems actually provide some escape from the consequences of wrong moral choices. Most social systems provide forgiveness, help with fixing a screwed-up life, and, "compassion," for those who really do not know what their lives are for and therefore continually ruin them chasing meaningless pleasure and entertainment.
When you are free there will be no man-made laws (or agencies) to cover up your faults. The laws of reality are ruthless and nobody violates them and gets away with it. You may live for pleasure if you choose, you may let any and every irrational feeling, desire, whim, passion, and fear determine your choices if you like. But you won't be able to violate the requirement of your own nature, and the nature of the world you live in and get away with it.
Reality demands you produce to live. If you don't produce you die. Freedom does not mean freedom from consequences, it means freedom to discover what is right and to do it. No one can do wrong and get away with it.
Most importantly you're going to have to discover what you are living for. No one else can tell you, because everyone is different and no one way of living is right for everyone. There are principles that apply to all human life but within the limits of those principles the possibilities are infinite.
The essential principle is that the purpose of your life is your enjoyment of it, but you will not enjoy it if you are not living it correctly. Life is a great adventure of achievement and discovery and one's real joy comes from what one achieves and discovers by their own initiative and effort.
As most people do not really expect to be free, even fewer really expect to be happy in this world. They may aspire to achieve true happiness and know it is what their life is for, but that aspiration is almost always like the girl who dreams of her prince-charming all the time believing he does not exist.
I have no argument to make here, only an observation that perhaps will inspire some who choose not to wait, but to be free in their own life.
If there were but one moment of ecstasy, of sublime bliss, it would make a life worth living. The greatest discovery of life is that ecstasy does not have to be a once in a life-time experience, and life, when lived right, is a continuous train of bliss and joy which is called happiness.