Are any of us truly free? Would we know if we weren’t? What does freedom even mean?

When I was young, I was told that money was the most important thing in the world, because without money, we aren’t free to do anything in life.

If we have money, we are free to spend it on the house we like, the car we want, the food we crave and all the “creature comforts” we desire.

As many of us were told by our parents, money does not grow on trees. Although money provides us with the freedom to do what we want, money itself is not free. To get money, we need to exchange something for it. For most law-abiding people, this means we have to work to earn money. I briefly explored this idea in another article, for those interested in my thoughts on employment.

Ironically, to enjoy the freedom money purportedly provides, we have to give up our freedom and sacrifice our limited time here on planet Earth as well as our precious life energy. No amount of money will allow us to buy these things back once they are gone.

When we think about freedom in terms of the liberties granted by our government, it is obvious that there are quite a few restrictions on this kind of so-called freedom. Consider these definitions of liberty:

1. The condition of being free from confinement, servitude, or forced labor.
2-a. The condition of being free from oppressive restriction or control by a government or other power.
2-b. A right to engage in certain actions without control or interference by a government or other power.
3. The right or power to act as one chooses.

Do any of these definitions accurately describe the kind of freedom we have in 2016?

Since most of us have debt in some form (credit cards, mortgages, auto or student loans) we are in servitude to the financial institutions that are our creditors. As money doesn’t grow on trees, we are essentially forced to engage in labor to earn money to pay these creditors, at interest. So, definition #1 doesn’t apply.

We now know that virtually all our activities, from emails, texts and phone calls, to purchases, travel and porn surfing, are monitored, surveilled, tracked, recorded, databased and crunched by big data algorithms that know more about what we are going to do next than we do ourselves. Edward Snowden’s revelation of the NSA PRISM program didn’t cause outrage and revolution, as it should have. Rather, it has had a marked chilling effect—people simply police their speech and actions, curtail their risky Internet browsing and generally keep their mouths shut and their opinions to themselves out of fear that they may somehow draw unwanted attention to themselves. This oppressive restriction causes people to be afraid to engage in certain actions due to control and interference by their government. So much for definition #2.

Given all this, are we really free to act as we choose? Do we still have those rights and powers? The PATRIOT Act has eliminated habeas corpus, Obama’s illegal drone executions have eviscerated due process and if the cultural Marxists and their brain-dead SJW jackboots get their way, we won’t be able to do or say anything without running the risk of committing a felony offense, like failing to issue a trigger warning to the pathologically sensitive or forgetting to use the apposite pronoun for a transgendered bisexual non-binary womyn with a beard who identifies as a tabby cat. It looks like definition #3 is also a relic of the past.

Truth be told, liberty isn’t all that great, anyway. It is freedom granted from above. The lord giveth, and so does he taketh away. In this sense, liberty isn’t freedom, it is permission from those who rule over us. True freedom is predicated on responsibility and accountability.

Perhaps we are thinking about freedom in the wrong way? Rather than focusing on the “freedom to” we should instead consider the “freedom from.”

I used to work in corporate Japan, and every day I put on a suit and tie, wedged myself into jam-packed Tokyo trains and spent 12+ hours a day in a dull, dreary, stuffy, stiflingly warm office surrounded by half-conscious robo-slaves I loathed engaging in boring and repetitive tasks that struck me as absurd and useless. I am sure this is much the same where ever you are.

The financial crash of 2008 presented me with an unexpected escape from this world, and ever since I have worked from home, at my own pace, according to my own schedule. I don’t have to wear a ridiculous and uncomfortable uniform-like suit and tie, and I only take trains when I want to, not when I need to. Gone are the days of a steady and predictable paycheck, but the trade-off is that I am finally free from that horrible corporate nightmare, which had been a major source of unhappiness in my life for many years. One of the greatest aspects of this new normal is the freedom from being under the thumb of some idiot supervisor. Now, when work comes across my desk that either conflicts with my schedule or that I simply do not want to do, I am free from the obligation to say yes. The ability to say NO is an increasingly rare luxury these days.

Back to the financial example above: If we simply avoid purchasing things we don’t need with money we don’t have (i.e. credit cards), we can live practically free from debt. Living a very simple life means that we need less money, which in turn provides us with the freedom from having to waste our time and energy in pursuit of someone else’s profits.

Most importantly, if we are free from dependence on external entities to provide us with the necessities of life that, until recently, humans had provided for themselves—housing, food, clothing, education, protection, healthcare—we can begin living more purposeful and rewarding lives. And, we can take a significant step toward freeing ourselves from the death grip of parasitic government, corporate and banking entities that want to suck us dry for everything we’ve got. This evil trinity stands in the way of our freedom. They are constructing road blocks and setting traps so that we can never achieve freedom.

They don’t want us to know that we are, in fact, already free.

Maybe there is more to the idea that money = freedom than we think? We can’t fight the government. We can’t take on the corporations. We can’t extricate ourselves completely from the vampire squid tentacles of the global banking cartel. Nevertheless, we are not without power

They want our money. Don’t give it to them.

It’s the simplest form of revolution there is: The freedom from having to hand over your hard-earned fiat.

Personally, I do not like companies like Wal-Mart, Amazon and Facebook, so I do not utilize their services or waste my time/money making them richer. I don’t eat at McDonalds or drink Coca-Cola. I don’t use credit cards—if I can’t pay in cash, I don’t buy it. I don’t smoke, drink or use drugs and I exercise regularly. I am attempting to pay off debt and save money. I am learning how to grow food, bush craft and become more self-reliant.

All of this should be common sense, after all, it is the way our ancestors lived for thousands of years. Yet in 2016, we have become disconnected from nature, dependent on government largesse, corporate made-in-China junk and enslaved by the banks, who control everything. We have the freedom to be docile, obedient consumer slaves. We are free to choose the biggest TV at Costco, free to choose which antidepressant is right for us, free to buy now and pay later…if you call that freedom.

However, we are not free to consider why it is in our best interest to be free from all these things. The last thing we are free to do is think for ourselves. We are not at liberty to utilize our critical thinking and common sense—there are safe spaces to guard against that.

We will know true freedom only when we are free from the need to be free. This is not a pipe dream, it is a choice. We can make it happen, we don’t need to wait for our criminal “leaders” to graciously grant us our freedom.

If this idea frightens you, if you think it is impossible, ask yourself: Why?