on freedom

I’ve been reading up on anarchy – ‘reading’ in the most superficial sense; I’ll go deeper, I think, if I decide that the word accurately represents what I imagine. Everything I’ve encountered in my shallow excavations mentions ‘individuals’ seeking ‘freedom’ from ‘hierarchy’. If these are indeed central to anarchy, it isn’t what I think it is, it isn’t what I’m looking for; I’m looking for ‘communities’ seeking ‘freedom’ from ‘tyranny’ – which sounds an awful lot like Communism, but, oh, no, I couldn’t possibly be looking for that…

Freedom. Right now, I want freedom to feel, freedom to think, if not freedom to do. And, so, peeking over the sides and around the edges of the emotional and intellectual walls built for me by others but, yes, fortified by me myself, I find myself feeling resentment and annoyance and frustration and rage and hate, I find myself thinking about defiance and revolt. Huh. And I won’t do away with these feelings and thoughts: I don’t want freedom from my feelings or control over my thoughts; I want freedom from any restriction on them. Which is interesting… What constructs must I do away with to allow myself freedom to feel and think, if not freedom to act?

They were clever, the ones who designed this society. They made it almost impossible to believe that having a feeling or thought isn’t the same as doing. But feeling and thinking aren’t the same as doing. However, liberty of thought and emotion might, under the right conditions, lead to different expectations and thus different actions. I think this is what terrifies most of us; we might expect something more of life and thus be responsible for making it happen should we allow ourselves to feel our feelings fully and think our thoughts through.

My school, like most public schools, is very much like a prison for both body and mind. I shouldn’t feel that or think it much less write it, but, there it is. To keep us ‘safe’ in body and in mind, our movements on campus and the things learned in the classroom aren’t negotiated at all by the community. Rather, they are regulated by outside agents of… who knows. And it isn’t that I disagree with most of the material I teach or the idea that students shouldn’t necessarily be able to come and go on campus as they please, but the level of non-negotiation in this institution is pretty overwhelming.

There’s a term I like, ‘non-negotiation’. It positions ‘negotiation’ as the default, which it should be, if a community is healthy. We should negotiate our time, our spaces, our actions. We all need to put food on the table, great, but beyond that, how do we live in these places together? I think we should be able to air our feelings and thoughts pretty thoroughly in order to determine not only what is taught in schools, but the real possibilities for what we can do with our days and nights and years…

We’ve been making do with lives others have designed for us, but, frankly, they lack imagination (freedom of thought) and aren’t in the least compassionate (freedom of feeling) with regard to how we might exist in this bizarre panopticon of a marketplace. As a result, we have no choice in how we act at all: we are either the propagandists for or the consumers of the system. Since that is, in fact, the case, it seems to me freedom of feeling and thought is all we have left, so we might as well give them free reign ;)