2:27 p.m. - October 16, 2005
“Free your mind, and the rest will follow…”
Of course, I recognized that from a song by En Vogue. I also recognized it as a blatant knockoff from Funkadelic, who titled an album in 1970:
“Free Your Mind, And Your Ass Will Follow”.
(The gatefold album cover is booty-licious)!
I mentioned this to Meany, and then went scouting for the lyrics of this record because she’s a hipster doofus like me, and appreciates a good funky lyric or five. The title track (which I do NOT have a copy of in my collection, unfortunately) is a 10 minute funk epic. The first lines are “Free your mind / and your ass will follow / the kingdom of heaven is within”
Then this line hit me:
“Freedom is free of the need to be free”.
So I started to think about that line (never mind that when Funkadelic recorded this album, George Clinton wanted to make it a goal to record the whole thing on LSD) and what it really meant. Read it again.
“Freedom is free of the need to be free.”
So that’s what freedom is? It does make sense.
I could sit here and quote song lyrics from Donovan, the Housemartins, Jimi Hendrix, David Crosby, Richie Havens, etc. etc. blah, blah, blah about freedom but nothing will really say more than that line.
And that line made me think about what freedom is.
We here in the Western world (I am including my friends and readers in Canada, the UK, Germany and Australia, and if I have missed any locale I’m sorry) are “free” for the most part. The citizens have a lot of rights, can elect their own officials, can live and work almost anywhere, and basically can come and go as they please, if they have the means to do so.
This freedom, as you know, is a very recent development in the whole scope of the world. But I don’t want to turn this into a history lesson (more so than I already have, because I think only about 129 people in this country still remember that Funkadelic record) – I want to discuss what freedom IS.
Of course, we don’t have total freedom. Total, unequivocal freedom would be anarchy. That would be fun for about 38 seconds, I think. Perhaps Nietczhe was right that out of chaos would come order – but you know I don’t want to be the uber-man to test that theory, really.
So we can’t really do EVERYTHING we want to do. That’s why there are laws.
And we have some social mores and customs that also prevent us from doing a lot of other things that we could do in public. (Although sometimes, when you’ve had a few beers, a couple of those mores and customs seem less rigid than they do when you’re sober, but I digress (as usual).)
There are some other regulations that I do believe are good for society as a whole. Having restrictions on pollutants that industry can emit help make everyone healthier and helps preserve the beauty of this Earth. Only the most heartless industrialists can argue with the benefits of clean air, clean water, and the preservation of nature’s wonders.
(I’m more of a tree hugger than a lot of people, I know, but I do think that most people would agree with me on the above paragraph. If not, then lets you and me take a drive to Alaska one day, and I’ll show you what I want to preserve, mmmkay??)
Our food is generally safe for consumption because of laws and regulations that do inhibit some freedom. However, one quick read of “The Jungle” (don’t read it while eating, though) affirms why those laws are good and necessary.
And there are some financial regulations that are in place so companies can’t just do what the heck they want to do. Sure, they don’t work at times, or are made AFTER a big scandal where people lose their shirts (and pants and bow ties), but at least they make an effort at stopping those shenanigans.
And then we have limited some freedoms in order to shore up equality. That’s a big question: Do you want equality at the price of some liberty, or liberty at the price of equality? I think society as a whole benefits with more equality, at the expense of some liberty. So while in a totally free society, you could discriminate based on race, creed, color, gender, or sexual orientation, it’s really not in our best interest as a whole to enable that.
All in all, though, we are pretty darn free as people.
Especially when it comes to choosing who governs us.
Free and fair elections, I do believe are the hallmarks of a free society. Now, of course, one can joke about the machines that helped elect many politicians in the past (and yes, the Nazis were basically elected into power in Germany in the 1930s), but the ability to choose one’s leader is a vital part of freedom. And mind you, we’ve only really had truly free elections since the Voting Rights act was established. (Something about a great disenfranchised multitude in about 15 states or so really diminished the fairness of some elections.)
So, take heart that the most powerful man in the House is a shifty, allegedly corrupt former exterminator that holds quite extreme views that are so far outside the mainstream many would recoil if they heard them. Because we elected the people who put him in that place.
And it’s a hallmark of freedom that even that person cannot get laws past that reflect the majority of his views. He can espouse them, sure, but there’s no way a lot of them will ever become law.
It’s also a sign of freedom that I can post an entry like this where I basically lampoon the leaders of this country so much that even Donald Trump could fire them. And I’m still here to write more drivel. (Yes, I hear the knocking and pounding on the door. I’m not going to answer it).
I do think that the greatest part of living here in a free society is that we, as people, can enact laws that the majority of the people think are right and just and good for society.
And then, the minority can claim that said law is not right and just and good for society, and challenge it in court.
Because we protect the rights of the minority, and that is true vanguard of freedom. Because at some point in our lives, we will all hold views that are in the minority of society. (Ok, this is in theory, mind you – I know there are a lot of injustices still going on in some places based on all sorts).
Speaking out on what’s wrong with the country is a vital and crucial part of the freedom we enjoy. In fact, I think it’s UN-American and anti-freedom to stifle dissent. I do think those that make a lot of noise about shutting up the nay-sayers would not like it if the tables were turned. (Foot’s on the other hand – you know…)
Going back to that quote – if you are truly in a free society – you won’t need to yearn to be free anymore. The majority of people on Earth aren’t really free – they don’t have the liberties we enjoy.
So we should enjoy this freedom, cherish it. Don’t take it for granted. Because you are free of the need to be free.
And to paraphrase a turn of phrase Funkadelic and George Clinton, (regarding freedom) if you ain’t gonna go along; take your dead ass home.
(Note: The actual quote is “If you ain’t gonna get it on / take your dead ass home” in case you were wondering, which I think maybe a whole total of one of you is. And that song isn’t political at all, but rather it’s all about the booty – and it’s written in the voice of the woman about a man sitting on his duff watching football when he could be…well…and you know, we are truly living in a free society if we can talk about stuff and things like that…besides, I’d listen to any woman who said that to me – unless the game was tied in the 4th quarter.)