Freedom is consumption

As creatures we are so quick to adapt and get used to the easy. I was at a zoo recently and just like everyone else there, I was trying to catch a glimpse of the animals’ natural behavior. Yet, they were all lazing around, predators and prey alike, their natural spark lost, waiting for that next handout. Are we that different than those animals? With our natural abilities to survive in the wild completely atrophied, are we really free or captives of the system we created?

The word freedom has so many different connotations throughout history, and yet most of the times we can only relate to the versions that we see on TV and in movies. For Spartacus, freedom meant breaking the bonds on his wrists – literally. For Susan B. Anthony, it was breaking the chains around the rights she had. For the Navajo, it was being under the sky where the Buffalo roamed. These examples we can watch on TV. How about the ones that never make it to our screens? How about what freedom means to you or to me?

Now this is a very tricky question. What is freedom for you? How do you know that you are free? Sure, the Amendments and UN Human Rights Charters grant you inalienable rights and those are supposed to guarantee your freedom. But does it end there? Then how come most of us feel trapped all the time? Trapped, with no room to maneuver, anyone? Or is your definition of freedom to be able roam around the country in your choice of motor vehicle, drinking as much as you want and sometimes even throwing up on the street, having sex with whomever you choose, shopping at whim, eating as you please – are these enough for you? It appears that, these are more than enough for the average American, making them feel like a bald eagle soaring in the skies.

One disturbing commonality of the freedoms pointed above: All of them involve consumption. We consume our vacations to tick off the places we’ve been. Same with our relationships. It goes without even saying for drinking, shopping, eating, etc. In today’s financial system, where our credit rating is more and more becoming the determining factor for us to go anywhere or to be anyone, we are made to believe, or taught, or perhaps have the natural assumption, that our sense of feeling happy and free is proportional to our ability to consume. It’s as if, our freedom to pursue happiness is somehow transformed into our freedom to consume.

Do you understand now what I mean by “Freedom is consumption”?