Freedom Is An Illusion

Sometimes it’d just be easier to eradicate the necessity of decision making. Remove freedom. Wipe the slate clean of guilt and second guessing and those formidable ‘what ifs?’. To be pre-programmed, wired, robotic; emotionless. To drift through life carefree. Robotic-robust-mundane.

”Robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes”

– Richard Dawkins

I’d condemn this as being painfully and poisonously cynical, but really are we anything more than robots? Does freedom even exist in reality or is it just an idyllic concept?

What even is freedom?

To summarise the Oxford Dictionary, freedom is:

  1. The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants- absence of subjection, independent of fate or necessity
  2. The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved
  3. Freedom from the state

The absence of restriction: does that really equate to ‘freedom’? How can absence correlate to things that we have been granted, for instance; the right to vote? It’s logically impossible for absence to equate to something: the absence of sadness does not revel the subject into happiness.  ‘You can’t prove a negative’ (James Randi) so can a negative be ‘something’?

Freedom from the state: can you call a society that is so heavily stipulated by money, and the media, free? Why if we are free to do as we please do we all aspire to such similar ideals, why do we follow the same path and conform to the same standardised expectations? Complete freedom from the state would entail a society whereby aspirations were based purely on happiness rather than social, political or economic factors. Where people had the opportunity to do whatever they wanted to do rather than being pigeon holed, spoon fed and indoctrinated into a ‘career’ prescribed to them by their socio-economic status- and nothing else. Why do we feel obliged to do things that we don’t want to do? It still feels like we need to break free from the constrictive chains of society, the cyclical 9-5 ominous clock ticking lifestyle- if that’s the sentiment how can this adhere to ‘freedom from the state’?

But do we even want to be free?



All we seem to do is restrict ourselves. Walking the same paths over and over again although there’s nothing stopping us from wandering off in another direction. It’s as if we all know we’re free but there’s some mental incapability to allow ourselves to fully embrace the freedom that we’ve been granted or to overturn the constraints of society. We enjoy being comfortable, not having to worry, eradicating decision making is so much easier- but then nothing seems worthwhile. We can’t have it all.

Are we free by nature but extrinsically restricted by our own surroundings?

Intrinsically free- extrinsically constrained.

C of (In)Equality

A resounding knock-back to women’s rights occurred this week. Yes women’s rights- we’re still fighting for those. It might seem like something you’d read in a history textbook or on a museum display. Women’s rights, mis-representatively so, evokes images of suffragettes marching in green, white and purple; a time of political protest, a time of inequality. We look back and think ‘well thank you for that ladies, procuring us the vote and all that’, but do we not realise that this struggle is not over? That feminism should still play a role in every woman- every girl’s life?

‘I hate feminists’ some women say. For some reason this term draws up an image of a hairy arm-pitted lesbian. But why? A feminist is defined as ‘an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women’ (Oxford English Dictionary 2012) this should be every woman, every female should be a supporter of her own rights- at least. Why would any woman want to limit her own rights; prevent equality in the workplace, equal representation and an equal right to education? They don’t. Many women feel, as we are taught in history, that our battle for equality is over, it was procured in the past; however the evidence from the last week or so suggests otherwise.

One establishment that one would expect to support equality to the highest level is the Church. Everyone’s heard the phrases ‘love thy neighbour’ and ‘treat other’s as you would like to be treated’ which are apparently fundamental principles of the Church of England, after all it was Jesus that said them. One would assume that equal rights for men and women would be right up the Church’s street. Evidently this is not so. For some reason ‘neighbour’ and ‘other’ are only applicable to men; white heterosexual men for that matter and us women are left outcast amongst other’s who are deemed ‘undesirable’ by the Church. Targeting the Church of England directly, how can the state headed Church claim to be ‘of England’ when it is more unrepresentative of our country than any other establishment?

The guardian newspaper has argued that the Church, by voting against the ordination of female bishops, has committed it’s own suicide speeding up the previously gradual death of the Church’s importance in society. But rather than this has the pledge for women’s equal rights been murdered?

Parliament has suggested that the Church be forced on this issue: but applying force does not equal change. To some extent it’s not worth it- female bishops permitted for the wrong reasons, and realistically not many women will step up knowing the hostility they will receive from male bishops. But parliament has a point, for one, the House of Lords holds 26 Lords Spiritual, all male, impacting the degree in which the House of Lords represents the people and also holding significant influence over the passing of measures through the House. In terms of the law, religious institutions fare immunity from such equality legislation such as the Equality Act 2010, however the EU could challenge the immunity of the Church of England with the equality of women being one of the foundations of the ‘Treaty on the Functioning of the EU’ regarding occupation and employment. Again, the Church may be forced into allowing women the same opportunities as men. Force is not the answer, by using force we are only having favours granted for us by men, this doesn’t change the attitudes to women within the Church, nothing can do that, our own salvation lays within our own persuasion but as women seem disinterested by this gender battle our hopes are pretty low…

As the Church’s stature dwindles due to this issue we might wonder why people are making the effort to change the attitudes of an already dying institution. One simple reason:

this isn’t religion anymore it’s politics.