Somewhere in the now distant mid 20th century, the philosopher Erich Fromm stated that our greatest task as human beings is to continue giving birth to ourselves throughout our lives. To allow ourselves to be fully born time and time again long after our entry into the physical world, he claims, is to know the true meaning of freedom.
We say we want freedom but we shy away from the responsibility of making choices. We’re forever avoiding being fully born by seeking refuge and excuses in comparing ourselves to others, in amusing ourselves to death, in demanding solutions from politicians, or simply allowing work to swallow us completely. We want to live by design yet we secretly hope to be told what to do, always seeking for recipes and formulae for happiness.
We say we wish to be lifelong learners yet a job change brings us out of balance. We desire fresh perspectives yet we keep repeating the words of others, often mindlessly making them our own credo.
Stability is achieved through motion. And those who do not move will not notice their chains. Only those who have given up faith, or never tasted what it feels like to believe in themselves, in their dreams and desires, and those who are equally frightened by the smallest and the biggest change, will continue to reside in the comfort of an existential vacuum, fiercely fighting to sustain it at all costs.
The world seems to have become like a giant department issuing licenses and permits to its inhabitants. Apparently we need a permission to create, to choose our work, who to be with, what to do with our lives, who to love or to hate, what philosophy to stick by, perhaps even a permission to be. And if we somehow remain indifferent to society’s pressures, then we still have to face our inner censor.
"Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”― Rosa Luxemburg
We want our wisdom to matter but we’re afraid that the only language others understand is wealth and fame. So we remain invisible, which is comfortable for a while, until we’re confronted with the next whiz kid, Silicon valley miracle or crypto trading sorcerer. Then we start studying them, trying to replicate their paths, begrudgingly.
We state out loud at protests that we are meant to lead, not to be led. That it is our sacred right to be the architects of our future. Yet in reality, most of us are content to be order takers, executives of tasks, with a minimal risk and minimal accountability. Neutral, anonymous, not free but exempt from any responsibility.
Why? Why keep living that way?
There has never been a better time to re-think the way we view ourselves. To put to question all the blind assumptions that have so far been guiding our lives. Not just to wish for a deep spiritual rebirth but to keep giving birth to our new selves....
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