Sunday, March 17, 2013

Catch-22 of Living Free

I live by a philosophy I term as "Living Free." I'm, by no stretch of the imagination, the originator of this concept or philosophy and certainly don't profess to be. I've simply adopted the two words from the English language as my simple descriptor of the philosophy I espouse.

Truth be known, my friend, John Applegath, author of the early 1980's book, Working Free, was a major inspiration for my personal "conversion." John's book dealt primarily with the part of our lives we call "work" or profession, vocation, occupation and job. It described how one didn't have to conform to the obsolete, but still in use, Industrial Age model for work in order to be a productive, self-supporting and fiscally responsible individual. My philosophy differs in that I deal with all facets of my life and anyone else who desires to remove themselves from the mainstream and live with the least number of restrictions, limitations, regulations, rules and laws that have definitive and direct impact on how we choose to live our lives.

Living Free

To truly live free, one must step back, conduct a thorough examination of their past and present life and project how they want to live their future life from a stated point in time forward. In two places in this blog I have outlined a "12 Steps forLiving Free" plan and, a quick-start, "3 Simple Steps for Living Freer - Immediately" plan as an initial launching pad. These two plans take each person, who chooses to make a change in their life plan to live freer, through a series of steps.

I don't suggest that this is an easy program to undertake. After all, if you choose to get a college degree in most liberal arts or standard disciplines in science, engineering, education, etc. you need to be prepared to invest at least four years in a good and, very likely, expensive institution. If you choose to enter more specialized fields like medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary science, ordained religious careers, psychology and similar fields, you can double or nearly double your time and financial investment.

So, why then, when you're considering reinventing your entire life should it be a simple, overnight change. It's not! The fact is that anyone making the decision to change his or her life and adopt a "Living Free" lifestyle must overcome a lifetime of indoctrination, education, conditioning, habitual living, misinformation and restrictions, limitations, regulations, rules and laws that have led you to precisely where you are at the moment of decision. In other words, you are making a decision to break with everything that has been your life and controlled your life to the present time.

That is precisely why I broke the program down into a 12 step process. It's like eating the proverbial elephant. You can't swallow it whole, but you can swallow it one bite at a time. You don't go for any kind of in depth education or certification program, involving a detailed course of study, to move you from limited or no knowledge to a point where you have become qualified to do whatever it is you started out to achieve. Actually, it doesn't matter at what age you begin the process of "Living Free," plan on the process taking the rest of your life because our society changes rapidly and you'll have to continue learning and adapting.

You'll also notice that the cost may not be an investment in tuition as it would be for a college education, masters degree or doctorate. More realistically, your investment will be in letting go of "stuff" that's taken over your life and consumes you. You will have to eliminate some toxic relationships that drain you of your precious time, energy, resources and peace of mind. And, you may select and choose to change your method of earning income to something that may be less financially lucrative, however, it may provide you with great joy, psychic rewards and peace of mind, not to mention freeing up more precious time and resources.

The Catch-22

Here it is. It's the Catch-22 that impacts virtually everyone to some degree or another. A Catch-22 is a solution that is denied by the very problem you're dealing with or by some kind of rule (or possibly a law). It can also be an illogical, unreasonable or senseless situation. It could also be a hidden difficulty or means of entrapment. In other words, there may be what appears to be (and may actually be) insurmountable obstacles to you achieving your living free philosophy and lifestyle as you have defined it for your ideal life.

Let's look at a few examples. It would seem that someone who doesn't have a fixed residence should be able to use a U.S. Post Office box for an address. However, you can't! The U.S. Post Office requires a street address in order to rent a post office box. You must have a place where some governmental agency can put their finger on you at any given moment in time at their discretion. Therefore, those individuals who are homeless, either by choice or by circumstance can't legally use a U.S. Post Office box. This includes, but isn't limited to, homeless folks who live on the streets, full-time RVers and Vandwellers. Additionally, nomadic individuals who choose to explore their country and the world and others who may have occupations that require them to move regularly like over the road truck drivers and traveling nurses, musicians and artists of various kinds fall into this situation. So, this requires creative thinking on your part.

Here are other examples. Most banks won't open accounts for you and insurance companies won't sell you policies if you don't have a street address. You will have a difficult time applying for a credit card. You will very likely not be able to borrow any money, like for a car, van or RV. If your occupation requires some kind of licensing, you'll most likely not be able to apply for and be issued the license without a fixed residential address, despite the fact that you're fully qualified. This can play havoc on you if you are an over the road truck driver or traveling nurse. Actually, you won't be able to get a regular drivers license, either.

Here is another thing that really throws a kink into choosing to live free on your own terms. According to the new healthcare law, you MUST buy healthcare insurance and if you choose not to you'll pay a penalty (oops, sorry it's a penalty that will be handled as a tax) to the government. Of course, if you don't have health insurance, by choice or especially if you can't afford it, you're in big trouble. If you need to see a doctor or go to the emergency room, you get to pay the FULL FARE while those with insurance and their insurance company (or Medicare/Medicaid) pay deeply discounted rates for the same services.

The examples go on and on. Now, understand, many, if not most, of the Catch-22 situations you'll run into (and the list is long) apply just as much to those who choose to have a fixed residential address where they reside all or most of the time.

It's All About Conforming

You see, you can live as free as you choose to live as long as you consider living free to be subject to constant surveillance, conforming to ALL the rules, regulations, laws, restrictions, limitations, etc. that the population is required to adhere to. It's not necessarily because they want to, but because they've been conditioned to comply.

There is a gray area that separates privileges and rights. Most people have a hard time distinguishing the difference. Additionally, we are conditioned to play by the rules that someone else makes for us to comply with. These would be our elected representatives who supposedly are acting in our best interest. But, as individuals, don't we have the right under the concept of "inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" to determine what's in our own best interests? Maybe back in 1776, but not in 2013. Everybody knows what's better for you, even your next door neighbor who will complain to the "authorities" if he or she doesn't like the way you maintain your home, paint your house, grow your lawn and landscape your house. There are even instances where WWII veterans have been brought before the authorities for putting up a flag pole in their own front yard so they could proudly and patriotically display the flag they fought for and saw many of their friends die for.

You supposedly have the right to free speech, to assemble peacefully and to worship or not worship whatever God or deity you choose. On the other hand, driving an automobile on a public street is a privilege not a right. Since that street is paid for and maintained by the common funds and for the common convenience of the public at large, you must qualify to use those streets by taking a test and demonstrating that you can operate safely and be aware of everyone else's privilege to use those public roads.

The Catch-22 creeps up as your rights are being eroded by hundreds of thousands of laws and regulations that are passed by your elected representatives. These are the people who determine that it's okay for you to serve your country and even sacrifice your life for those representatives, however, it's not alright for you to display your patriotism because they believe a flag pole is an unsightly intrusion in their lives. But, everything will be just fine if you simply conform and live your life the way the rest of the population have been conditioned and agree to live their lives.

It reminds me of the old Star Trek, Next Generation series (and other Star Trek iterations) where a species called the "Borg" had a mission of assimilating by force all the species of the universe into their collective to become drones of the hive. Of course, this is science fiction, but how often do we find some threads of truth and projections of society in these works of science fiction. Alternatively, we hear the term "lemmings" used along with a newer term, "sheeple."

The Catch-22 of Living Free

So, here it is in a nutshell. You are as free as you want to be as long as you agree to conform or be assimilated. As the Borg would say, "We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile."  Or we could modify that to say, "We are the government. Conform and surrender your lives. We will add your lives to the conformity of the society that we control. Resistance is futile."

I am not a right-wing radical and I'm not promoting any conspiracy theory. I don't have to. We are already living this scenario in our current lives. But, just as in the Star Trek series, where there were species who fought back to retain their personal identities, individuality and human rights, there is a small segment of the seven billion+ humans on this planet who are still willing to pursue their individuality and personal freedom. Our continuing challenge will be to find ways to counter the continual barrage of Catch-22 issues that we'll confront.

There will never be a way to achieve total freedom. As a species, we are interdependent on one another and that's a good thing. But, as every new law, regulation and rule places more and more limitations and restrictions on each of us in our ability express our individuality and enjoy personal freedom, we'll have to find more ways to counter the Hive and the Borg Queen. And this brings up thoughts of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. But, that's a topic for another time.

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