What is Freedom without Happiness?


I have read several posts and articles that ask whether a person would choose Freedom or Happiness?  Why must we choose, unless of course, we are talking about the book by Yevgeny Zamyatin entitled “We”, where the characters in Paradise were given a choice, “Happiness without Freedom, or Freedom without Happiness”, and there was no third choice! But, in real life, why do we have to choose one or the other? What is Freedom? What is Happiness? Are they always subjective? And, why can’t we have both?

Ancient Greek historian and author, Thucydides, says, “The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage”. But, he also states, “The strong do what they have to do and the weak accept what they have to accept.” Aren’t those really the same thing? Doing what you have to and accepting what you have to, are the same thing. I see strength as synonymous to courage. So, is the secret to happiness just doing what you have to do in life? That would not make me happy, nor would I feel free since that is what I have done all my life, so far.

I am pondering these things because my life is changing, mostly for the better. Though, I confess, I had very little freedom or happiness in my life and soon will have more freedom than I have ever had. To give you an example, I wasn’t allowed to choose my own clothing until I was an adult, and when I did go to buy a piece of clothing for the first time, I didn’t know what size I wore since I never had a reason to look. That may seem odd or humorous, but that is how I was raised. I was also told when and what I could eat. I don’t know what to do with my personal freedom? I already speak my mind, eat mostly what I choose/afford, dress as I want, so is just being able to continue those things freedom? And, happiness? Few things make me happy and for the most part, those things are fleeting. There is only one thing that truly makes me happy and that is unattainable. So, are the fleeting pieces of happiness all there is to happiness? Is being able to risk my life doing some thrill-seeking sports activity happiness? Is being able to drive very fast on a road freedom or happiness? Is going to a museum or hiking a mountain path happiness? I know material things don’t make one happy. And, I have heard people say that happiness is waking up to a new day and knowing they are alive and can walk and so on, but isn’t that really just gratitude?

I read that having freedom allows one to do good deeds. That if someone is forced to do good deeds then their motivation is merely self preservation, or that being forced to choose between freedom and the greater good is a false choice. I think that is true. But, is doing good deeds happiness? It only made me happy briefly, but not always.

I am at a crossroads in life, and I know very well that all people go through one or many, as I have in the past. But, this is a very new path and I am not confident about what happiness is or how to have it on more than a fleeting basis. Philosophers are no help because they don’t agree and they all have “cutesy” ideas of what happiness is, like “the ability to solve ones own problems”, yes, well, that is just part of life, it is not happiness. Religion isn’t helpful either, as it tells me that my happiness is selfish and I should be trying to make other people happy. I have been down that road and know there is no way to please everyone all the time!

I suppose only time will tell whether I will ever feel free or happy in this world.

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Last Poem…

….as it says.

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If you live long enough, are even remotely intelligent, and can briefly pull yourself away from selfish endeavors, you will have more questions about life than you have answers. I question everything, and I’m fairly certain my last breath will be in the form of a question, no, not as to why I am dying, of that I think I will know. It is the answers to all these questions that I have tried to find throughout my life. I still don’t have many answers for the big question, and my faith is tenuous at best, but without it, I have no reason to keep from going “Postal” on the whole world. Most people realize at some point in their life, (whether they do so intellectually or sublimely), that they are not immortal, the world is a bad place, the best we can do is usually unappreciated, that the only person you can depend on is yourself, and that faith is called faith for a reason. What people do with that knowledge is what makes a difference. Most people try to drown that knowledge out with drugs, sex, alcohol, endless social engagements, escapism in books, films and games (video games and real sports), spending money, “keeping up with the Joneses”, business ventures, thrill seeking, abusing others, power grabbing, and the list goes on and on. There is a means of “escaping” reality for every person. Did you ever wonder why? I know why, but I’m not telling. I spend a lot of time alone. I play video games, too, and I read, but I don’t read fiction since it is more productive to read non-fiction. When I play video games, I am observing the interactions between the players, and I have really learned a lot about humans. Some things I have observed, and this is a generalization, besides people being incredibly selfish, they have low self esteem, yet have big egos; they will always demand more from you than they are willing to give of themselves; they will do despicable evil to the unwary or gullible; they will do the most ridiculous things to get attention, even negative attention, and they are inherently lazy. And, that is just a little bit I learned from what I’ve seen of video game players, now let me tell you something else. That video game world is a tiny microcosm of the real world. In the real world, people will use you until you have nothing left to give. They will walk on you like a rug, if you let them because for some inexplicable reason, and this is something I have been trying to understand my whole life (without an appropriate answer); when people perceive you are kind and willing to do more than your share of the work, etcetera, they think you are the “Golden Goose” and they will take advantage of you and treat you badly. (Goose, by the way, is a slang term for someone who is gullible). Pay attention, observe more and change your ways and I mean in life, not stupid video games!

Next, I would like to share some quotes by Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher, born 1844 and died 1900. Short life. I really don’t like Nietzsche, he was pompous, rude, had an ego big enough to float the Titanic, was misogynistic, and thought more of himself than he should have. But, he was an observer of human activities and some of his observations are interesting and worth repeating. Which just goes to show, even a bad person sometimes has something decent to offer humanity.

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How do you describe Heaven?

As with every thing, Heaven is subjective. Meaning, it depends on the person to find out what his/her description of Heaven is. Religious descriptions of Heaven are generally that place where every one will be happy. But, what makes you happy may not make me happy. For me, Heaven is the love I found on Earth. Many people never find love and they look for it in various ways, many of which one will never find real love therein. But, love on this planet may not be their definition of Heaven. But, for one who has never known real happiness until they found the love of their life, love on this Earth is my Heaven. If you ever saw a vision of your description of Heaven, would you ever be able to let it go? I don’t think so. Just as I know I will never let go of my Heaven on Earth!

Here are a couple of cartoons that illustrate how people have different points of view, even if they are standing side by side.

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More fun with photo manipulations…

I’m not feeling like discussing anything or commenting about any specific thing because the world has become a miasma of greed, apathy, selfishness and hate. Not that those things didn’t exist before, but it seems they have grown exponentially, in exceedingly grotesque proportions. So, I use photo manipulation as my catharsis.

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Where does Happiness come from?

Recently, I was reading the questions on a shopping survey, and one of the multiple choice answers to the questions stood out like one of those children’s games of “which thing is not like the others”. The question was, “what was the purpose of your shopping?”, some of the multiple choice answers were: to buy a particular item; to purchase food items for a single meal; to replace normal home products; to shop for fun for yourself; to purchase clothing for work or school; to do regular grocery shopping; to replace an electronic item/appliance. So, did you see the one that didn’t fit? Since when is shopping something one does for “fun” for one’s self? This is a blatant promotion that selfishness is okay! I’m not saying a person shouldn’t buy themselves things, but to shop specifically to make yourself “happy” is like saying eating to make yourself happy is okay.

The US government recently had to prove it was not going to default on it’s debt and stop paying employees or stop funding the many programs and projects it has around the world.  Something that I heard over and over was that the government needed to get out of this recession in order for the public to feel good about spending again because spending is what keeps society going. Really? I know how capitalism works, and it is not for public betterment. It is for the owner of the business. But, I want to keep this as short as possible, so I’ll try to cut to the chase, as they say. As the illustration at the top shows, I have come to believe that the US public is encouraged to spend in order to “feel good” and “be happy”, and not only that, it seems to be suggested that by spending they are helping the whole society. To this I say there is a balance, but I have talked about that before. There is something I perceive as slightly insidious. Education in the US is free for primary and secondary, but college/university is not. In order to have a good job, one needs to have a Bachelor’s Degree, but joblessness is so rampant that most companies are now expecting a person to have a Master’s Degree for an entry level position. This is beyond the reach of many people in the US, in spite of grants and scholarships. Spending is promoted, no matter what one’s economic level is, and people are bombarded by adverts every where for every thing, and told they “need” the newest, most advanced this or that. Here is the crux of what appears to be rambling, (bear with me, as I really am trying to make this brief, but it is complex), I believe the public is being encouraged to stay ignorant, to be sedated by spending, and to thrive on the goal of attaining the next purchase, whereas the goal of bettering oneself, gaining a strong education, seeking greater knowledge and understanding in order to be a better person and a more productive citizen to the betterment of yourself and to the betterment of society as a whole, is not promoted or encouraged.

I’ll leave you with a quote by the Marquis de Sade from his work, Juliette (circa 1797), “You fear the powerful eye of genius, that is why you encourage ignorance. This opium you feed your people, so that, drugged, they do not feel their hurts, inflicted by you. And that is why where you reign no establishments are to be found giving great men to the homeland; the rewards due knowledge are unknown here, and as there is neither honor nor profit in being wise, nobody seeks after wisdom. ….”So it is that among you a taste for trivial things replaces a taste for great ones, that the time which ought to be devoted to the latter is frittered away on futilities, and that you will be subjugated sooner or later and again and again by any foe who bothers to make the effort.”

Music: Because it is thematic. Old old song, and warning, it has a bad word.  “Money” by Pink Floyd          

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All Cats Are Grey #2

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