Why Freedom Demands Responsibility

“The principle of freedom must be our first commitment, for without this no one is immune against the virus of aggrandizement – the impulse to grab power, wealth, position, or reputation at the expense of others.” 

Herbert DouglassSourCE:The Cost Of Freedom

True freedom is a commitment to experiencing the very real limitations of our choices.

We will always have to live with some sort of, ‘what if I had…’ We will always have to mourn the limitless possibilities we didn’t pursue. If we had no choice about our life we’d simply get on with it, but because we do, we live in constant fear of making the wrong one.

That’s the price we pay for the freedom of choice. 

We have to live with the consequences of our actions. We have to live in the knowledge we could have done things differently. To know we could have done things better.

I wonder if many of us don’t actually want the level of responsibility that comes with having to choose our own fate? Perhaps this is why so many of us prefer to be told what to do? Perhaps this is why so many of us choose not to think for ourselves? 

It’s too uncomfortable.

We don’t want to take responsibility for our life. We didn’t have to as children so why should we now?

Many recent decisions we’ve made in the “free” parts of this world demonstrate an unwillingness to take on this fundamental aspect of freedom. We follow the herd because it’s easier. We follow the herd because that’s what our parents taught us to do.

I imagine that living in a society where your thoughts and actions are decided for you is in some ways easier. You don’t have to think about what to do. When your survival depends on the actions that the state has demanded, you just do. So you become another brain washed cog in the totalitarian machine. Just as your dictator ordered. There’s a nice little cog.

The sad truth about such a life is you still have responsibilities. They’re just not your own.

You cannot escape responsibility.

Many of us falsely belief that freedom comes with the freedom not to have any responsibilities. How we love to have our cake and eat it too! We say, ‘if only I choose the right leader then I’ll be able to achieve financial independence free from having to try at anything.’

Delusion is a word.

Delusion is what’s sold to you by populists who promise the world free of charge. They promise you the things that only you can deliver for yourself. 

There’s a huge price that comes with freedom, incalculable in fact – millions have died for it – but I believe the rewards justify it. Yes the possibility of failure is real, but so is the possibility of achieving greatness. We should remember that humans don’t flourish under the conditions of compulsion – we flourish under the conditions of free co-operation.

It’s hard to shift through the noise of course. It’s extremely hard in fact. To do the research required to figure out what your own opinions are on matters that affect us all. The rewards are not that you’ll have a leader you want or a country that reflects the values you hold either.

You probably won’t.

The reward is actually greater than that. The reward is that you get to know who you truly are. This is something your country and the world needs more than your vote. What we need is a diversity of unique voices speaking for themselves. What we don’t need is a tribe of mindless people echoing only the thoughts of one man.

Don’t be so quick to throw your freedom under the bus for someone else. 

It’s important to remember that no two voices are the same. Freedom respects that fact. We should be extremely wary of those who seek to limit the voices of others. We should take the time to listen to what our own heart has to say. We should put in the effort to form our own opinions. We should honour them with the choices we get to make.

I read a quote recently by Niklas Göke from his excellent article Responsibility Is Freedom that said,

“Freedom is not about shedding your responsibilities, it’s about choosing them.”

I would go a step further and say that freedom demands we choose our responsibilities. The same way that having a life demands we protect it. If you want freedom of choice then you have to choose to take responsibility for your life. If you don’t someone else will choose your responsibilities for you. The danger is they will use that for their own profit and power by forming a narrative you refused to take responsibility for forming yourself. In doing so they will shut your mind from your heart. The moment that happens, you’ve lost your freedom.


Thank you all for taking the time to read. As always I’m interested to get your thoughts. What do you think about the relationship between freedom and responsibility? Have we taken our freedoms for granted in the Western world? Is this why we find it under threat? Do you even believe it is under threat? Do you think that freedom has nothing to do with responsibility? As always I welcome ALL opinions and thoughts. This is very much a free state. 

Mental Mondays – 12/10/20

Hello lovely readers and welcome back to my new and improved Mental Mondays newsletter – the only weekly newsletter to make a pass at your spouse before apologising profusely.

For those who don’t know, each week I try my best to give your Mondays a much needed kick up the proverbial by sharing 3 x thoughts from me (that you should probably ignore), 2 x quotes from others (that you probably shouldn’t), and 1 x thing I’ve been reading or listening to that has helped me grow (in a non-sexual manner).

As always I finish with a joke that’s either so good or so bad, you won’t be able to help it but laugh.

Let’s begin!


3 x Thoughts From Me:

Success is what we alone define – it’s extremely personal and completely different to what society tells us. Which is why you must take the time to define it for yourself – otherwise you’ll end up chasing someone else’s version of it.

The mind is hardwired to keep you alive. It’s far more interested in your survival than achieving any sort of lasting happiness. That’s why it keeps tricking you into thinking that more money, a better job, or a bigger house is what you need. It’s trying to safeguard your future self – to give you the best possible chance. If you found lasting happiness once you attained everything you actually needed then you would have stopped striving a long time ago. It’s so important to understand this. To understand why – after having great sex, getting a big promotion or buying a fancy new car – your happiness is so short lived. This is by design. You need to stop looking to your mind for lasting happiness because you won’t find it there. You need to let it go. You need to look beyond it and see what is right in front of you.

One reason you shouldn’t have children: that moment when you realise that one day you will have you let them go. One reason you should have children: that moment when you realise that one day you will have you let them go.  (Let that sink in for a second)


2 x Quotes From Others:

Lack of confidence kills more dreams than lack of ability. Talent matters—especially at elite levels—but people talk themselves out of giving their best effort long before talent becomes the limiting factor. You’re capable of more than you know. Don’t be your own bottleneck.” – James Clear (Source: James Clear Newsletter)

“You don’t build self esteem by patting people on the back and telling them they’re wonderful. Confidence is a much more complex phenomenon that comes from experiencing one’s strengths in action.” – Rosabeth Moss Kanter (Source: vrundachauk.wordpress.com/oh-i-didnt-knew-this-quotes)


1 x Thing That Has Helped Me Grow

This brilliant Intelligence Squared podcast episode with Thomas Friedman and Robert Peston on the Final Days of the Presidential Race. For those who don’t know the name, Thomas Friedman has won the Pulitzer Prize three times and has been called ‘the most influential columnist in America.’ In this conversation with ITV’s political editor Robert Peston, one of Britain’s leading journalists, Friedman talks about what is possibly the most consequential Presidential elections of our times. Honestly, if this doesn’t persuade you to vote for Biden then nothing will. It’s well worth a listen. I’ll leave you with this quote:

What we have now is a president without shame, backed by a party without spine, supported by a network without integrity – and that trifecta is extremely dangerous.” 


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

Sorry to bother you with another moon joke for the third week running but I felt I had to share this one.

As we were relaying the story to my parents about our son’s strange phobia of the moon my father paused before commenting,

“Maybe he’s a Luna-tic!?”

Genius.


My dad is here all week ladies and gentlemen.! 

Till next time…

Have a very happy Monday!

One bonus question for you all:

What does success mean to you?

(As my regular readers might have noticed I’ve changed the title this week. I’ve don’t this for a couple of reasons. The first is because I never really liked the trite title Motivational Mondays. The second is part of an effort to give my blog a little more direction with a particular focus on building emotional resilience. Mental being short for mental health. Of course mental on its own sounds better – plus I’m a little bit f***ed up so that fits too… In an effort to streamline this post and to give you more bang for you buck (and to save me some time), I’ve moved it to 3:2:1 format. Please let me know what you think of these radical changes in comments section below. Love to all, AP2 x)


PREVIOUS MONDAY POST:

Motivational Mondays – 04/10/20

The Boy Who Cried No Wolf

The first part of the story goes something like this. 

Once there was a boy who started screaming, “Wolf! Wolf!” 

Upon hearing this the people from his village ran around screaming like headless chickens. Of course the boy, who was playing a prank, thought this was hilarious. When the villagers found out the truth they were, understandably, very pissed.

Despite a good old rollocking the boy had had so much fun he thought he’d try it again the next day. Once more, after the villagers found out they’d been tricked, they gave him an almighty scolding.

The third time the boy did this, of course, there really was a wolf. Unfortunately no one believed him and so, as the story goes, the villagers got fucked…

Badly!

The second part of the story happened years later. It goes like this.

The children of that village, having seen what had happened that day, learnt a very valuable lesson. Sadly they grew up and forgot all about it. As a result they ended up electing that very same boy their king.

One day many packs of wolves descended on every village in the kingdom.

Unfortunately the boy king had stripped these villages of their defences to save a little money. Fearing that the villagers might form a rebellion as a result, the boy king devised a dastardly plan to save his reputation.

His plan, seen as it had worked for him so far, was to lie.

And so, despite reports coming in from across the kingdom about wolf attacks, he declared confidently, “No wolf! There is no wolf! Carry on with your life as normal.”

Of course there were, in fact, many millions of wolves. As a result, all of the villages throughout the kingdom, believing the boy, got fucked… very, very badly!

The villagers who survived were, predictably, very angry. They started screaming at the boy and each other for trusting the boy! Many who still trusted the boy screamed at those who didn’t!

Of course the boy king, understanding just how short the memory of his fellow villagers was, had banked on this. He used that anger and went on the offensive. “It’s not my fault,” he said. “It’s everybody else’s. I was actually the first person to say wolf, when nobody else did! It wasn’t me who said no wolf, it was the evil opposition!”

Now the villagers were confused.

They started saying things like, “Wait!? Did he say wolf or no wolf? I’m not so sure anymore. He’s certainly said both. Perhaps he really was telling the truth? Maybe the problem isn’t the boy king but the people who don’t believe him!?”

The problem the villagers had now, of course, because the boy had lied to them so much, was not about whether they should trust him or not. The issue is that they simply don’t know what is true anymore. They no longer know how to determine fact from fiction. It isn’t just the boy they don’t trust, but anyone.

Sadly this is something the original story about the boy who cried wolf never taught us. The exception to the rule. That is, if all you know and hear are lies, then it’s the truth that you stop trusting.

The third part of the story, of course, is yet to pass. The question is, will we the villagers continue to believe the boy who cried wolf, no wolf and then wolf again?

Or will we finally understand that the boy is the wolf…


https://iwillvote.com

https://www.usa.gov/voting

Motivational Mondays – 31/08/20

Hello fine readers and welcome back to my Motivational Mondays Post – The only weekly newsletter to give your medicine with a spoon full of sugar!

Following a 4:3:2:1 approach, it contains 4 exceptional thoughts from me (ha), 3 admittedly better quotes from others, and 2 things I’ve been reading and/or listening to this week that have helped me grow!

As always I’ve finished with 1 silly story to lighten your Monday blues… 

Love to all X


4 x Thoughts From Me:

If you can improve your life knowing you already have enough, then future failures will hurt you less and future successes will bring you more joy. 

The early bird often catches the worm because he or she is an early bird. If you’re a night owl, forcing yourself to catch worms in the morning isn’t the best strategy. Far better to build your day according to a schedule that suits your chronotype. Why hunt for worms if it’s easier for you to catch mice?

For all wannabe bloggers: understand we all have to start from scratch and that it takes time and effort for things to take off. Most important are your reasons for blogging. Let it be about the love of writing. Let it be about helping others, however small the number. If your words reach just one person then you’ve already achieved something special. Forget the numbers and speak from your heart. Forget the numbers and concentrate on making connections instead. Forget the numbers and enjoy the journey.

An intolerance of right wing politics from the left only strengthens intolerance in the right and vice versa. Not having tolerance for those who you disagree only strengthens their position, as well as your own. It only deepens the divide. What we need is greater understanding. We cannot change what we don’t understand.


3 x Quotes From Others:

“To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.” – Octavia Butler

“After a point of time, when you get success and fame, money and everything, the purpose of life has to be redefined. For me, I think that purpose is to build bridges. Artists can do that very easily, more than politicians.” – A. R. Rahman

“Democracy is only as good as the education that surrounds it.”- Socrates


2 x Things That Helped Me Grow

1 – This interesting No Stupid Questions podcast episode with Steven Dubner and Angela Duckworth: How Much of Your Life Do You Actually Control? In this episode Steven and Angela discuss the advantages of having an internal locus of control versus an external locus. They also discuss the reasons why we procrastinate and how to stop it. Note and quotes below.

MY PERSONAL NOTES AND QUOTES:

  • Those who have an internal locus of control tend to think they effect outcomes more than they actually do. They believe life is controlled by them. Those with an external locus tend to think they have less control than they actually do. They believe life happens to them. 
  • People with an internal locus tend to be more successful. They have better mental health. People with external locus are more prone to depression- tend to be more lackadaisical at work. 
  • The most productive thing one can do in a difficult situation is to concentrate on controlling the controllables.
  • Good to have two columns in your mind. What you can control and what you can’t. Make the active choice to concentrate your finite attention and energy on what you can control. Give up wasting it on blaming external circumstances outside of your control. 
  • Children taught to have a growth mindset and to have grit perform better. It’s important to teach this mindset keeping in mind that other children – through no fault of their own – are disadvantaged. We can’t continue to create a culture of superiority where adults believe it’s only because they worked harder that they have been more successful. 
  • “Why put off what you can do tomorrow till the day after tomorrow?” – Mark Twain 
  • Why do we procrastinate? We procrastinate because of fear. Not because of laziness. 
  • We often think of a task as being far more difficult and taxing than it really is. As a result we expend more emotional energy procrastinating than we would if we simply got on with the task.
  • I love deadlines. I need deadlines. Without the deadline I’d be about 90% less productive than I am. 
  • Procrastinating is a form of impulsivity. It’s a failure to delay gratification – like the marshmallow test. The question is whether you are going to do what’s best for your future self or please your present self? 
  • A procrastinator correlates with lower achievement and lower self esteem 
  • Upside to procrastination?- more creative. Procrastinating can be used as a useful creative tool. To connect the dots. 
  • But deliberately delaying a task or a problem to think of a solution – is that procrastination? Procrastination is used as a negative term to describe an action we wish we had done earlier. 
  • Tip 1. Break big tasks into small tasks. The dread is often because you are anticipating the enormity of a task like writing a book. When focusing on small manageable chunks progress becomes easier. 
  • Tip 2. Just start. Self deception. I’m just going to take a look. I’m just going to do 5 mins. Simply start and you’ll often find you end up doing more than you expected.

2 – This excellent TED talk – Why Schools Should Teach Children For The Real World – by Ted Dintersmith.

“As automation eliminates structured jobs and careers, schools should focus on training students to be bold, creative and entrepreneurial. Instead, argues education advocate Ted Dintersmith, the core purpose of education has been lost in a wave of testing, data and increasingly irrelevant metrics. In this talk, he underscores the need to educate for innovative and creative strengths, and trust our schools and teachers to prepare our kids for life, instead of standardized tests.”


1 x Silly Thing To Make You Smile:

This one will be short and sweet, just like my gorgeous silly boy who decided to start naming his nose after things!

Yes you read that correctly.

As my wife explained, he’s started pointing at his nose and saying things like, “This is car!”

I laughed before replying, “That’s good to nose…”

I’m here all week ladies and gentlemen!


Till next time…

Have a Happy Monday Everybody!

P.S. Don’t forget to exercise your silly muscle this week!

One bonus question for you all:

What can you write about that nobody else can?

(Thank you all so much for reading. If you have any suggestions, thoughts or ideas about today’s weekly post I’d love to hear from you in the comments at the bottom.)


PREVIOUS MONDAY POSTS:

Motivational Mondays – 24/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 17/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 10/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 03/08/20

Motivational Mondays – 27/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 20/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 13/07/20

Motivational Mondays – 06/07/20

If Honesty Isn’t The Value We Look For In Our Leaders Then What Does That Say About Us?

“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (ie the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (ie the standards of thought) no longer exist.”

Hannah Arendt from her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism.

Let’s not blame each other.

Let’s not point the finger.

Let us all for a moment drop the habits that prevent us from learning and accessing the truth.

But let’s pause for a second and consider the wake of our recent choices. 

As we all reel in the wake of yet another tragic black death. A pandemic for which we were woefully unprepared. As we sit on the precipice of an impending climatic catastrophe that we have all had the time in which to make the changes necessary to prevent (or at least significantly stem). We must ask ourselves, how we as a generation became so lost?

When did we stop valuing the truth?

Why did being right become so important?

How did being wrong become so unbearable? 

When we voted in men we know lied to obtain their positions, what were we really saying? 

Did we vote in the way we did because we refused to acknowledge our previous mistakes?

Will we vote the same way because we don’t have the balls to admit we were wrong?

Let me be more blunt.

What the shitting fuck has happened that we allow a man who almost only talks in complete bullshit to remain in office? Who is actively and openly preventing others from accessing the truth?

What the fuck has happened to our values?

When did freedom of speech become the freedom to lie your fucking ass off without repercussion? 

You know that boy who cried wolf – who caused the death of all those villagers? Shall we vote him into power?

Great fucking idea.

Should we protect freedom of speech? Yes, of course we should. We should even protect the right to lie. But to allow people – the president of the United States none the fucking less – to lie without consequence?

What the fuck are we teaching our children?

How can we as a democratic society be ok with a man who actively seeks to prevent people from accessing the truth? This is a heinous crime.

I’m sorry for my anger and I’m sorry if you’re offended, but the truth is far more important than your ego. Actually I’m not sorry, fuck your ego. (I say that with love. I really do.)

To ask difficult questions means to confront some difficult truths.

Here are a few.

Democracy isn’t failing. 

We have. 

It’s not the republicans or the democrats fault. It’s not the presidents fault. 

It’s our fault. 

We together are all responsible. Regardless of whether you voted for that man or not. 

Somewhere along the way we stopped trying to understand the other and it became a game of us against them.

In that moment we all lost.

That policeman who killed George Floyd. Who do you think is responsible for his death?

We. All. Are.   

None of our hands are clean.

So long as we continue on our path of accumulating wealth while others starve.

So long as we continue to rape the planet will while we sit eating imported steak dinners simultaneously discussing how bad it is for the environment then joking how delicious it is.

So long as we sit quietly while someone with strong opinions talks about how our Black/Hispanic/Chinese/Female coworkers are less able. You know, the type of person who opens a sentence by saying, “I’m not racist but… I’m about to say something very fucking racist.

So long as we continue to think in terms of us vs them instead of a collective we. So long as we keep looking at each other as the enemy. So long as we allow those who we hate to be people we hate. We’ve lost.

I’m ashamed to say I’m guilty of all theses things.  

You’re a hypocrite then?  Is that what you’re telling us?

Yes. Yes I am. Absolutely. Both hands in the air. 

I’m a pampered middle class white man who has enjoyed the privilege without even knowing it. My ignorance has been a disease. In no small way the colour of my skin has been an advantage that allowed me to succeed ahead of others who I’ve no doubt are more qualified, more intelligent and harder worker than I will ever be. All because I’m white and they’re not.

You know what. I don’t welcome it. It’s made me weak and I don’t welcome it. I honestly don’t welcome the easy life I’ve had. 

I want a level playing field. And on it I want to compete with all my brothers and sisters regardless of background, ethnicity, gender or sexual preference. I want to embrace them at the end. Win, lose or draw. I want them to challenge me – to be able to really challenge me, so I can grow.

Do you think the athletic world benefited from allowing black people to openly compete with white people? Of course it did. Why the fuck don’t we think that true equality wouldn’t benefit us all? Of course it fucking will.

It will make ALL OF US STRONGER. 

You see what we did when we marginalised and made groups of people unable to compete with us on the same level playing field? We made ourselves weaker. We made ourselves weaker because we made it easier for us by making it impossible for others.

Now we’re so fucking weak that equality feels like a burden. It feels like sharing wealth and opportunity is an affront to our being. 

I’m wrong. My way of living is wrong. I’m so far from what is right it hurts. But you know what. I’m willing to admit it. Are you? 

Are you willing to say I’m wrong or is your ego too fucking precious? We should all be encouraging each other everyday to openly say I am wrong and ask the question, how can I be less so?

Quite frankly if you don’t have the balls to admit you’re wrong, you’re a coward. 

Is this making you uncomfortable? I hope so. It’s making me uncomfortable. Which is why I know it’s where I must go. If you’re uncomfortable it’s because I’m challenging your beliefs.

THATS A GOOD THING EVEN IF IM WRONG.

Let’s have the discussion. Let’s have the conversation. Let’s try to understand each other. Let’s move closer together. 

And let’s stop giving power to those who aren’t willing to do the same.

Please, I bet of you, for our children’s sake. Let’s value our fucking values again. 

(As always I welcome ALL comments and opinions. This is just me venting. Please don’t think I would ever direct that at you. I’m simply trying to get myself to wake up to the ways I can be better.)