Your Freedom Now (Part 2 of 3)
You and I, who want to be free without waiting for the government or society to change, need to know what practical freedom is. How can we free ourselves?
The Autonomist's Notebook provides some explanation of the meaning of freedom in a practical sense under "Freedom and Liberty" and its "Commentary", and under "Freedom of Speech" and its "Commentary", which anyone truly interested in freedom may read.
For the purposes of this article, I'm going to describe freedom by means of three characteristics:
Individual—Freedom pertains only to individuals, and pertains only to that ability of individuals to choose. No matter how "free" a society is, if an individual is not free to choose and act on those choices, he is not free. No matter how repressive a society is, any individual in that society who manages to make his own choices and live by them is free.
Responsibility—The free individual is responsible for all his own choices and actions and all the consequences of them. The free individual cannot evade that responsibility or attempt to foist it on others without surrendering some or all of his freedom.
Reward—The free individual enjoys all the benefit from all his profitable choices and actions. An individual who is prevented from keeping and using, as he chooses, all of the product of his own efforts is not free.
What is Freedom for You?
The first thing you or I must know, before we begin our pursuit of personal liberty is what that actually means for each of us. If freedom is being able to make choices and live by them without any restriction or interference from others, we have to know what choices we want to make. What do you want to do? To be free, you only need to be free to do what you want to do.
Here, you must be very careful. There are things you cannot do that have nothing to do with freedom or oppression. Remember, the only restrictions on freedom are other men. But if you were the only person in the world, you would be free, but you could not do just anything you wanted to do. You could not do the physically impossible. You could not do what you do not have the ability or resources to do. You cannot do everything you want to do, because, if you are normal, there are more things you will want to do, than in your lifetime, you will have time to do. Be realistic.
In determining what you want to do, you must discover what you really want. There is nothing wrong with learning by observing what other's do, but it is a great mistake to assume because someone else enjoys doing certain things or living a certain way, you will. Everybody is different, and no two people will succeed at or enjoy the same things. Think for yourself.
Other people's lives and freedoms are not your concern. Most other people do not want to be free anyway, and those who think they do, seldom achieve it or make any effort to be free. Your freedom depends only on your being able to do what you want to do. Once you know what you want to do, you can attend to the business of eliminating or working around whatever restrictions might be in the way of your choices. Don't worry about restrictions that "might" be there "if" you wanted to do such'n'such, if you really do not want to do that anyway. Concentrate on what really matters to you.
Yes! You can change your mind, and most likely will, as you learn more, develop more abilities, and mature. You must always make your current choices in the light of all that you know now, considering the consequences of every possible choice, even the fact that you might change your mind. The method by which you achieve freedom, however, will be the same for any current or future choice.