I’ve been struggling with the nature of freedom lately. Mostly as it relates to freedom from conditioning. With our deeply ingrained notions of how life should be, how we should behave and respond and what constitutes ‘success’, it seems that most of us are really about as free as my former fish friend.
Where I used to accept, then scoff at the concept of predestination, I’m realizing more and more that each of is largely predestined to act out a fairly rigid set of behaviors based on incredibly early childhood conditioning. When Asimov created the visionary Hari Seldon in his Foundation series, it seemed beyond belief that anyone could predict with great detail the precise ebbs and flows of humanity’s future (as Seldon did via his new science of ‘psychohistory’), right down to the lives of key individuals. As I sit here tonight, unable to sleep for so many reasons, it seems quite plausible, given our knowledge of exactly how to condition a consumption-based society that blindly obeys primitive religious and social mores.
Yes, we’re all of us, myself included, merely playing out the string. There’s no free lunch and certainly no true free will. Everything is predictable. Everyone has and will act largely according to programming.
Denis Diderot famously said, “Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.” But perhaps he should have added (besides “women”) to that: The last advertiser, the last teacher (yes), and (yikes) the last parent.
We slap the chains on young. Very few break free.