On Freedom

Published: Jun 9, 2003 by Joe Larabell

"Man has the right to speak as he Will."
"Man has the right to write as he Will."
 -- from [Liber OZ](/oz.html) by Aleister Crowley

I like to think that my personal philosophy rests solidly on the foundation of personal freedom. Of course, it would probably be a bit of a stretch to say that my every action is based on this principle but it does play a strong part in my political and social views, as well as in my interactions with others. And I sincerely believe that we are each only as free as we allow others to be free. Allow me to explain…

Most of what I write today is based on the principles of Thelema and, in particular, on the contents of the Book of the Law. But while this happens to be the context within which I currently think, I have been thinking in this direction since before I ever heard of Aleister Crowley or Thelema. In fact, some of my early writings centered around individual freedom and autonomy. My involvement with Thelema was, in some ways, inevitable – since in effect I was already a Thelemite even before I knew how to spell it.

The basic principle, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,” has been so often misinterpreted that it almost seems synonymous with anarchy in the minds of many. But this is so far from true as to be almost laughable. The key word in the phrase, if I may be allowed for a moment to interpret, is thou – an ancient form of the the common second-person pronoun. The speaker who utters this phrase to another is admonishing the other person to follow their own Will. Rather than being a selfish statement of one’s intention to trample anyone who stands in their way, it it an invitation to one and all to break free of the shakles of social convention and follow the dictates of their own hearts.

It is only through the granting of these freedoms to everyone with whom we deal that we can ever hope to gain those freedoms for ourselves. For who, granting that each human has the same rights as himself, would possibly in their right mind seek to trample on the rights of another? The whole thing is so obvious that I am dumbfounded by the mere necessity to explain the principle, much less the objections that arise as a result.

Someone will always say: “Yeah, but if everyone has the right to do what they want, why wouldn’t someone just decide to kill me right here on the spot?” Because, I answer, if they did, they would be affirming that, at least in their mind, the right to live was not a univerally held principle so therefore what harm is there in taking their life in return? Seems too harsh? Perhaps. But our so-called “civilization” has brought with it more harm than good as people struggle to retain their identity in a world devoid of direction. “Do what thou wilt” is more than an invitation to chaos – it is a door to the understanding of oneself. It is an identity and a direction for those who choose to truely contemplate the meaning of the statement.

Now, what does all that boil down to in the real world. Well, in everyday life it means treating people fairly – sorta like the Golden Rule. If you don’t want your personal secrets splattered all over the office, then don’t spread stuff you hear yourself. If you don’t want to be taken to the cleaners by sleasy salesmen, then be honest when you make deals with your own customers. If you want someone to be responsive to your needs then take the time to respond to theirs.

Too much trouble, you ask? Sure – it’s a lot of trouble. It means some of us might have to pull our heads out of our butts and think for a change. It means not relying on years of social circuitry so carefully built up over the years to protect us from having to look the other person in the eye. It even means possibly having to admit once in a while that you screwed up. But the reward is a world in which it is safe to be whoever or whatever you desire – a world in which you do not have to force yourself to conform to someone else’s notions of normalcy.

But to pull this off, we must vigilantly guard against anything that erodes either our personal freedom or our individual autonomy. We must identify and expose attempts to catalog and control us in the name of protecting the public interest. We must resist the constant invasions into our private lives brought about by otherwise well-meaning public officials who want to take the easy way out of any problem by simply restricting everyone. And we do this not by force, mind you – since even these poor misguided fools have a right to their opinions. We do it by education – be raising the level of awareness of the general populace when it comes to freedom, privacy, and autonomy. And we start with the only thing we truely have control over – ourselves.

[Note: Further installments on this rant, as well as links to appropriate groups and individuals who are fighting for the cause of freedom, will be added as time allows. In the meantime, if you have any comments or find any web sites worth adding here, please drop me a line.]


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