“And that is the story, kids, of how I met your mother.”
Whither left our dreams, I asked, some months ago; I suppose now is as good a time as any to begin formulating the answer.
If you are reading this, it is overwhelmingly likely you live in a city; where in the world is irrelevant.
Most of you hole-dwellers have never known freedom. America, Europe, Australia, it doesn’t matter — you are not free, and even as you lie every day to yourself to the contrary, you know that this is true.
Freedom is a lack of restriction; can you recall even once in your life when you could have done anything — ANYTHING — without fear of the consequences?
No, you do not remember this; all you know is fear. Every moment of every day, you live in fear.
I don’t really care if you believe otherwise; you are lying, and I know it, and you know it, even if you fear to admit it.
Freedom is being able to lie down and sleep when you are tired, or eat when you are hungry; freedom is being able to build a house without a permit. Freedom is knowing you could dance naked in a field, painted bright blue, and be mocked only by the wind, who dances as no human ever could. Freedom is knowing that if you reject the rules of your society, that you could leave it behind — without simply trading one set of shackles for another.
There is not one sliver of land on this planet which is not claimed by some country or other. I want you to think about this — about the implications. There is the long-held and oft-stated belief that laws are “social contracts” — in essence, that in exchange for living in a given society, that one gives up certain “freedoms” in exchange for structure, protection, and the companionship of other human beings. What exchange, however, is an offer one cannot refuse?
If you believe that child slavery is wrong; that parents should not be able to sell their children into bondage, how can you say that a man should be inexorably bound by laws he has no choice but to accept? What kind of a “contract” is an agreement made simply by being conceived?
The bubbles of light we call cities are a place of human structure; to live in a city is to conform to the social norms of that city, and this is necessary for the structure to survive — but you city dwellers believe that the bondage you have accepted in exchange for protection and sustenance should apply to everyone, willing or not.
To come into a city is to accept that one is entering a place of order and agreeing to bide thereby, but when every living man, woman, and child is chained to the light, no matter where they go, they are not free, and they live in fear of the chains they can never escape, and the chains can tighten, inexorably, forever constraining more tightly, until the breath of life — of living, as opposed to simple existence — is choked entirely from them.
And they are you.