Freedom lies in the orbits.

After reading my last post, in which I sketched lot of distorted versions of freedom in the contemporary society, some readers raised the questions that “then what exactly is freedom?”

In this post I try to answer the very basic question : What is freedom?

To seek an answer, I look towards nature. I believe both the flora and the fauna in nature can be examples of free state.

A wild plant can grow anywhere where it is possible; an animal can go wherever it wants to.

Or so it seems.

Had it been so, there would be no concept of ecosystems and wild life diversity and conservation. Plants and animal species are limited to the areas, most suited for their growth and sustenance. A tree is free to grow and grow, but grows only to the point of sustenance.

No freedom can be absolute. In other words, absolute freedom doesn’t exist.

We come back to the question: What is freedom?

I think the answer is in the concept of Orbits.

The entire universe is governed by orbits, zillions of them. Right from an atom to solar systems, orbits are all pervasive. It would be an understatement to say that we exist because systems both micro and macro abide by orbits.

Freedom for an electron or a planet is the ability to go anywhere in an orbit but not beyond the orbit.

And the power or ensuring this orbit lies with a body at the centre which may by the nucleus of an atom or the Sun in our solar system. If the nucleus or the Sun disintegrates, the entire system will disintegrate. Then the electron or a planet will be “free” from the orbit but will have no meaning.

Coming to human perspective, since man is a social animal, the power centres are also of social nature.

Family, religion, communities, manners, good habits have served as the nucleus to determine the orbit.

Imagine an entity that would want the electrons to deviate from the orbit for the benefit of that entity. Or another entity (a star bigger than the Sun) who would want the earth to deviate from its orbit. It’s not difficult to imagine the ensuing catastrophe.

I somehow feel that the corporate is the entity that for its benefit wants individual to break free from the orbits held together by family, religion and community.

And the lethal tool in their hand is “advertisements.” Unsuspecting people don’t even realise when they fall prey to these craftily designed messages and images that “hijack” their thought processes and mentally enslave them. Many Hollywood movies are also an extension of the corporate. The corporate – through lobbying – haven’t spared even the legislative of the most powerful nation – the U.S. Reality shows on television (excluding the talent hunt ones) have proved to have a strong psychological influence especially on the youth.

The message is “challenge the limits..they are holding back your freedom”. This effectively translates into break free from the orbit – of your family, your religion, your community.

The world is full of messages inviting, tempting and tantalising to break free of the orbits.

Lot of people who give in to the pull of fitting in to the “contemporary images” created by the corporate often end up disillusioned.

The real freedom is the freedom of the mind. The crux of freedom lies in realising the limits of the orbit which only conscious intellect can do. Thus real freedom is a function of an aware intellect.

Society has its share of vices. Slavery is a vice as it chains the freedom of the mind more than the freedom of the body. Religious fundamentalism is a vice again as it chains the inquisitive mind. Apartheid and racism are vices because these are manifestations of a narrow and constricted mind.

The greatest people on the earth have sought to free the society of these vices. Swami Vivekananda, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa were the people who understood the meaning of freedom and tried to spread it. But none of them tried to break free of the social orbits.

Freedom is poetry; freedom is science.

Science, with the help of mathematics, tries to discover and understand the physical orbits to leverage them to the benefit of the mankind. Poetry tries to map and challenge metaphysical orbits through the use of language.

Following any ideology without assessing its intellectual worth is the antithesis of freedom.

In my last post I said that the world is being increasingly inhabited by zombies. This is because most of us are following and consuming ideas and products just because they seem fashionable.

Challenging orbits in the name of freedom has led the world to the World war II, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, sub-prime crisis in the U.S., Euro crisis.

Understanding orbits leading to the authentic freedom has been epitomized by Copernicus, Charles Darwin, Newton, Einstein, Shakespeare, Homer, Gandhi, Tagore etc.

Come let us seek the real freedom and liberation.

In the shackles of Freedom.

It didn’t occur to me. Not until I gave this as a topic for an extempore exercise a couple of days back. The topic was “Freedom”.

As expected, one after the other speaker started praising- no – eulogizing freedom.

And suddenly, I found myself wondering whether we truly understand freedom?

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I believe freedom is one of the most glorified and least understood ideas. It is a notional virtue whose value is enhanced by its amorphous definition. When somebody says “freedom”, he may mean any of the following:

Freedom from Human Slavery

Freedom in this form is the noblest idea indeed. Nothing more shameful has inflicted mankind than the idea of one human enslaving another. The world deserves to be endowed with the implementation of this notion of freedom.

Freedom to follow a religion

This notion of freedom is pure and noble indeed. Although religion is not necessary for existence as we can see in case of animals, it can give meaning to human existence. Thus a person must be free to choose the way (s)he wants to seek that meaning. A Cassius Clay must be free to become a Mohammad Ali.

Freedom from hard work     

In this form the idea is “a free man doesn’t have to work hard”. A mind that seeks this form of freedom is representative of all that has slowed down the progress of certain individuals, societies and even nations as a whole. At the same time, individuals and societies that have cohabited with hard work have led the way to achievements and prosperity.

Freedom from discipline

This seems to be the ideal of modern lifestyle. In this form, discipline is considered to be antithesis of freedom. People driven by this idea of freedom like to do things when they like to do and not when they are supposed to be done. From students to employees, people crave for this freedom.

Freedom from traditions and customs

Freedom in this form is sensible when it challenges those traditions and customs that defy logic or lack contemporary relevance. But seeking freedom from traditions simply because it doesn’t gel with idea of “modernity” is indicative of low self esteem.

Freedom from the notions of health and hygiene

Today, most of the people look down upon someone who advises to avoid indulgence in junk food, smoking and alcohol. “Don’t even try to take away my freedom to choose what I eat and drink” seems to be the stern message.

Freedom from “Ugliness”

We are living in the age of standardized notions of beauty. Not that earlier there were no standards for beauty, but they were not strictly imposed by an individual upon him/her self. Anorexia is a relatively recent phenomenon. Nose jobs, lip jobs, liposuction……….. “ugliness” should be defeated at any cost.

These distorted ideas of freedom are primary breeding ground for consumerism and are being marketed by the corporate that stand to gain the most from this freedom.

Most of the advertisements today feature either “attractive” women or “smart” kids and try to dictate the “ideal” notion of freedom. And most of the people gradually respond by getting enslaved by these notions of freedom.

Freedom is having a soft drink / drink/ fag whenever you want it. (Freedom from discipline)

Freedom is being fair and having blemish less skin. (Freedom from “Ugliness”)

Freedom is the ability to choose a particular brand of tobacco. (Freedom from the notions of health and hygiene)

Freedom is having glossy hair without any human frailties. (Freedom from “Ugliness”)

Freedom is insulting the elderly. (Freedom from traditions and customs)

Freedom is buying a degree. (Freedom from hard work)

Freedom is putting on jeans and shoes of a particular brand.

Freedom means showering bullets on the innocent.

Freedom is using abusive language freely. (Freedom from traditions and customs)

Also we are given to understand that if you are not free by the above and similar standards, shame on you.

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The world is being increasingly inhabited by “free” zombies – people who want freedom without understanding the responsibilities inherent in the idea of freedom.

Instead of celebrating our freedom we are falling prey to the clutches of distorted ideas of freedom.

Thanks for your time.