Reliant Upon Absolutes

In our pursuit of happiness the first thing we have learned is that, there is not much to be happy about. So we tend to lie to ourselves to give us an aura of happiness. This is most prevalent in how we lie to children to protect their childhood. But adults lie to themselves all the time: look at the positive (as if happiness is a weighing machine of negative against positive), concentrate on being alive (as if death mist be an absolute unhappiness), don’t give out negative energy.

If we set up expectations of Utopian proportions we are never gong to be happy. If we invent an heaven to be a perfect place that only exists for the dead, how can we ever be happy?

Rather than look for happiness, what we might be better doing is showing understanding to each other. And not assuming happiness can ever come from other human beings. There are no absolute goods, nor absolute bads. There may be no reasons for certain things to happen or not happen. We live in a median world where compromise is the rule.

A Tank Filled with Fish

Many years ago we won a goldfish at a fair – I am not sure they even allow this anymore – and brought it home in the plastic bag hurriedly sourced a plastic tank and kept it clean. We kept Fishcake, as we called him, for years. He never grew very big.

Years later in our own house I dig a pond and filled it with four fish who promptly decided to become 14 fish. They grew much bigger and were a lot of work.

I learned a lot about acceptance from them. never able to escape their pool, living off whatever grew in the pond and especially what we fed them everyday, protected from the heron’s by the green net above them, and idly swimming around.

I look at society today and see people doing exactly the same thing, yet calling it freedom. The person who has a strong mind is always free, even in a prison cell. When a group or a tribe think in the same way, move in the same way, when individuality is defined by what we do that others are doing but doing it ‘for ourselves’ or better – freedom doesn’t exist.

The Weakest Make Us Strong

I have always subscribed to the belief that had I been young in 1916 I would have been a Communist eager to free the serfs and build a just society in Russia and I would have been one of the first to be shot when Lenin destroyed the ideal by creating a dictatorship. I am actually sure that I wouldn’t have survived very long in any of the fascist states that have existed since the beginning of human society for any of a number of reasons, but certainly amongst them would be my adherence to the belief that life itself is the only sacred thing there is.

So much of our education is designed to teach us how to get on, make good, have fulfilled lives by being ‘successful’, and successful always means having ‘enough’ money, when actually it should be about how we empower those with no power. Because we are powerful enough to kill anything and anyone, ethics must exist in our allowing things to live. It is not ethical to keep slaves, it is not ethical to build wealth upon the backs of slaughter, it is not ethical to lie to ourselves that society is inherently good because it keeps us alive at the expense of everything else that lives.

Either we are not ethical animals we just pretend to be, or the way we are living is wrong.

Personality Alchemy

The alchemy of choice is fascinating; what makes one person become a career criminal and another fear to even steal a penny? Yes it has a lot to do with influences of other minds as one grows up but it is also about strength and weakness of character and that comes from many places; including genetics, life experiences and drugs. Society itself has a myriad of pathways to weave through but all seem geared to one aim; to create capital for ourselves and that limits certain creative avenues immediately. So streamlined are the ways of thinking these days I have great empathy for people who get to stage where they think we are set up from birth.

Yet there is always a part of us that stretches the boundaries. It is that part that wants a career change when we hit forty; that part of us that gets bored; that part of us that sees prison bars in the streets of a city or in the density of the trees in a forest. It is the side of us that is unhappy but doesn’t know why, that wants to achieve something different, that imagines things are not as they are.

Its the part of us that makes for revolutions and its resonance is felt everywhere all the time because the inner human being is always in a state of rebellion.

Mobility and Freedom

Cars have , of course, been the greatest boon to liberation in the history of the human race. until the motor engine was created we were dependent upon the horse to get around and they are neither as swift, as dry in wet weather nor cheap to keep unless you own land enough to graze them. Whilst there is much to be said for the demise of the horse in human society, not the least the ending of their slaughter in their thousands in our wars, it is a warmer more empathetic experience to ride a horse than drive a car.

Today young people long for their first car. It is the open road. The going out when you want to. Being able to feel safe. Feeling the road and counting the miles. Taking your date to the back seat, putting your children in safe chairs, helping mum get her shopping. Cars are the thousand and one ways in which we run our lives and because we travel to work they are the foundation of modern city living and the life-line of modern country living.

Which is why we all have to step up and take the blame when our modern way of living puts so much lead into children’s brains they do not develop properly, when our roads are so dangerous people die in their thousands, when we drive over animals we do not protect without a second thought, when the car becomes an extension of our inability to think.

Freedom has a cost other’s pay.

War Is A Gain

A long time ago when talking about humanity’s endless round of wars a professor said ‘men love war and women love warriors’, and suggested it will alway be with us. Excavations of a lost city in central America have suggested not only is this the oldest city ever found, but that it was a major trading centre on an open plain and did not have a protective wall around it. The conclusion drawn by the archaeologists is that this city was not in fear of any attacks.

Which may be true but it doesn’t mean the people didn’t have warlike instincts. War is something that comes with population density,  you can’t have an army until you have enough sons in the community to create it; until that time what you normally have are ‘gangs’, which work in similar ways, for armies depend upon the bonds of friendship between individual soldiers for their strength.

But the real kick comes with another facet of human society which baffles almost every thinker down the ages: the willingness of thousands, if not millions, to follow an order given by one person.  Not a person they know or have met but obviously one they defer to.

For human beings to do this there has to be a certain amount of conditioning.  It may come as something loathsome to think, but schools train people for society’s needs; and we are all on a leash of some description.


The thrust of business (free market or otherwise) is to make the greatest number of people buy the greatest number of the same things. The business system is also deigned to ensure we keep buying by depriving people of the means to grow their own food (which it seems to me most people are reluctant to do these days anyway) and making the ‘things’ we buy of a quality that always breaks down.

In a way that is like nature because we break down and are replaced too but the old burger  restaurant in the Amazon quote haunts me: why are we all doing so many of the same things? Do we think we are vying with each other to be able to wear jeans better, look smarter with our brand of mobile phone, be on the mark with a new car. What is also odd is how we treat people who don’t want or have these things – they are outside, old fashion, a bit strange.

Is it really about freedoms? I wonder if we are not comforted that other people do what we do. A state which reinforces our idea of ourselves by being mirrored by millions of other people. Not a matter of keeping up with the Joneses but being a Jones.

The artist as an ‘outsider’  is becoming an ever more important point of reference. There is a certain blindness in uniformity that is always to be held in high suspicion.

What Is Freedom For?

Most concepts have many facets. For the most part thinkers have seen freedom as a challenge, based on a natural urge to impose some ethical structure upon the actions of human beings. In fact thinkers down the ages have concentrated on these actions as have governments as they emerged as necessary forms of control upon huge populations.

But actions are not even half the story, because they have been immersed in backward religious thinking that seeks to impose something that is not there in order to persuade human beings to see freedoms as the conduit for being better people. There can be no heaven as long as human beings propagate a hell on earth for ever other living thing and all religions are bind to some things.

But as anyone who has been incarcerated will tell you with the ancient cri de coeur, ‘you can lock-up my body, but you cannot chain my mind.’ Freedom starts and ends where all human activity starts and ends…with the mind. And those of us who think we are free should look around and wonder why so many people do so many of the same things for the same reasons at the same time of day and night. For the freedom of the mind is something that can be taken away from us before are even aware we have minds, when we are being taught.

The liberation of ideas is the only freedom.

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February 2019
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