As we embark on what feels like the the eve of the most important midterm election day in the USA conversations around protecting our freedom run rampant. However, the more I have conversations about freedom, the more I am left wondering, are we actually free?
As a country, we, in the USA, often compare ourselves to other countries like Russia, China, North Korea, and many others all over the world with an all too common distaste, and many times self appoint ourselves on a pedestal above them. Yet, when we really think about what freedom means, I’m left perplexed at the actual idea of freedom in America.
We have some form of freedom of speech, yet as we continue to watch our democracy be challenged over and over, this concept seems to be rather confined within a certain restriction of what we deem to be appropriate. And it’s not just one side that seems to be sitting on a holier than thou platform, as if one is allowed to do whatever they please and the other isn’t.
Don’t get me wrong. I am 100% against any speech that is hateful, dehumanizing, seeks to spread malicious falsehoods or incites violence. However, our speech is no way free.
If you challenge the government you are put on a watch list. Journalists liberty to tackle any given subject is tightly bound by corporate and ideological redlines. If you write, speak, or promote your beliefs, you come under fire, almost instantly, from a number of groups drooling with rage waiting to pounce on you.
Even this simple examination of what freedom means in the US will undoubtedly come under fire from many, but hey, opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. And in some ways that is what we like to believe, and part of what our freedom is based on: our ability to have an opinion and do something about it.
Yes, we all get to have an opinion. But the truth of the matter is not everyone’s matters, regardless of how much we are fed to believe this. Ultimately this is how we end up with systems where the majority of a population vote for something or someone, and yet we are left with a dangerous minority leader in power.
However, this is how things have been done forever, when one side favorably gets what they want, the other is supposed to just shut up and do as they are told. The check and balance of power is barely maintained, and then poof, here we are.
Beyond freedom of speech, we like to think we are free because we have the right to vote and elect our government officials into office, but even this is a game that today we are all too aware of being controlled by a small group of people, and an agenda to promote the richest of rich.
Yes, we are seeing more and more change occur in many elections. Red states flipping blue, and blue states flipping red. More LGBTQ elected officials, and more minority demographics coming out to vote. However, more often than not, we are left with candidates that are playing games to simply get elected. They don’t actually stand for what they spew, and once in office the actual politics of it all come into play even more than a strategy game of Risk.
We think we can decide so much for ourselves, but the media and big corporations tell us what we want, when we want it, and how we want it. We are fed nonstop advertising in some form for every aspect of our lives, and as social media becomes an ever-growing powerhouse of a channel to be fed anything and everything, this phenomena only continues to grow. As talks of privacy on the internet come under fire, it’s beyond clear that certain big businesses like Amazon are fighting with us, the people, but only because so much of their business stems on counterfeit products. Thus the lack of personal privacy laws on the internet allows the company to get away with its shady practices, and ultimately, how the company’s CEO overnight becomes one of the richest men in the world thanks to loopholes built into our tax laws.
Gerrymandering, foreign interference, and countless fake news stories are pumped into our “free” world, and before you know it, we are fed a notion of freedom that actually is anything but that.
So how we do we change this? How do we actually gain our freedom? How do we stop the insanity of doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?
I know after reading all of this it almost feels hopeless, but the thing is, it’s more hopeless not to vote. Its more hopeless to lay down and surrender in the darkest hour and simply give up.
If you want to see real freedom exist then you must vote. If you truly want full control over your body, and what happens to it then you must vote. If you want to be able to continue to fix a broken system then you must vote. If you want to be better than what you see around you then you must vote. It’s that simple.
While who you vote to is entirely up to you, it’s simply not enough to say you don’t like either candidate, or they both have done things wrong, so you are sitting this one out. Nope, sorry, not an option anymore.
We are sitting in the middle of a technological civil war, and it’s not enough to throw your hands up and say, “I don’t get it, I don’t have time to figure it out.” Sooner than later, you won’t be allowed to even try and figure it out. Furthermore, to cherrypick what you like and don’t like about a candidate, now more than ever, is beyond unacceptable. You either get the whole package, or no none of it.
So what everything ultimately comes down to is you. Your thoughts, your beliefs, your concepts of what is right and what is wrong. While I know I often speak to a certain audience, I hope this piece somehow makes its way to some new eyes, some new minds, some new people. Sometimes you just need to hear something different, or have your views challenged, the same way I had my notion of freedom recently challenged because it wakes you the fuck up.
While no one can force anyone to vote, or to vote for someone specifically, I can encourage you to think about the world you would want your children to live in. Think about a world where you are in need of humanity because something that you never imagined happened to you and your family, and just like that your entire thought system changed.
Hate is something that is learned, breed, and passed down, but so is love, resistance, and strength, so while many argue on what is hate and what is love, my last challenge to you is what is your fear, and where does it come from? When you can tap deep into the most uncomfortable part of yourself to answer this question, you will often find answers to things you never imagined. So as you walk up to the polls tomorrow think about the fear you have, but don’t let it be what guides you in your own personal journey for betterment, growth, and change. Let it be the thing you acknowledge and look to push pass because that is where freedom starts.