Absolute Freedom: A Form of Slavery

4 min read

An attempt to explain a universal paradox.

The great author Paulo Coelho once wrote, “absolute freedom doesn't exist, what does exist is the freedom to choose anything you like and then commit yourself to that decision”. I somewhat agree with the concept of the non-existence of absolute freedom. Absolute freedom doesn’t exist because it is an unattainable ideal. And that is due to consequences. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction; this law applies to our entire universe. You can’t have a cause without an effect. Therefore, certain “effects” may persuade you to not “cause” something. Thus, denying your absolute freedom. But let’s assume we live in a different universe. One in which absolute freedom might be achievable. A person might argue that this is the best thing anybody can have. But I say it’s the worst nightmare anybody could ever dream of.

We human beings don’t have as much control as we think we have, and nature loves to remind us. Whenever we fail to stop a wildfire, a tornado, or any other disaster, that’s nature’s way of telling us to know our place (at least I think it is). If we observe well, even the most trivial things are beyond our control. Our need to piss, our digestion process, our heart rate, and our sexual urges are among the things we can’t control. There are also other things that are difficult, but not impossible to control. The big example for this case is our desires. Our desires are ways that we think will help us maximize our pleasure. To have desires is natural and uncontrollable. To act on them, however, is quite risky.

Absolute freedom, as a concept, grants a complete detachment from things that we consider as “constraints”. Giving us only one choice; do whatever we want. Now, I can go into the semantics and say and something quirky like “since absolute freedom gives us only one choice, it’s no freedom at all”, but that’s not my argument. I earlier mentioned that acting on our desires is a risky business. Much like taming a Lion, you run the risk of being devoured by it. Our desires are dangerous and we need to interact with them carefully. What absolute freedom does is destroy any chance of doing that by detaching us from constraints. Constraints are parameters that guide us to act on our desires wisely. You want to eat; eat healthily, you want to have sex; make sure it’s safe...etc. These constraints help us to get the most out of our desires without damaging ourselves. When one frees themselves from these constraints, one gets to test the limits. And we all know that there are no limits to our desires, so the above-mentioned scenario of being devoured will only be an eventuality. And to be devoured by desire is to be controlled by it. One’s desires will take control over one's actions, and one will go to unspeakable lengths to satisfy their ever-increasing and limitless desires. This makes one, effectively, a slave to their desires. But that’s not all. The worst thing about such slavery is that it gives an illusion of freedom, taking away any urges of rebellion from its subjects. Thus, making slaves love their slavery. 

In conclusion, the idea of eradicating societal constraints sets a threatening precedent. Societal constraints may need reforms, but not at the risk of destroying them. Seeking absolute freedom precedes total anarchy. I’ll end this piece by saying: Thank God for consequences and social order!

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