WHENEVER you see any one subject to another, and flattering him, contrary to his own opinion, confidently say that he too is not free ; and not only if he doth it for a supper, but even if it be for a government, nay, a consulship ; but call those indeed little slaves who act thus for the sake of little things, and the others, as they deserve, great slaves. — "Be this, too, agreed." Well, do you think freedom to be something independent and self-determined? — "How can it be otherwise?" Him, then, whom it is in the power of another to restrain or to compel, affirm confidently to be not free. And do not mind his grandfathers, or great-grandfathers, or inquire whether he hath been bought or sold; but if you hear him say from his heart, and with emotion, My master, though twelve lictors should march before him, call him a slave. And if you should hear him say. Wretch that I am, what do I suffer! call him a slave. In short, if you see him wailing, complaining, unprosperous, call him a slave in purple. “Suppose, then, he doth nothing of all this?” — Do not yet say he is free, but learn whether his principles are liable to compulsion, to restraint, or disappointment, and, if you find this to be the case, call him a slave keeping holiday during the Saturnalia. Say that his master is abroad: he will come presently, and you will know what he suffers. “Who will come?” — Whoever hath the power either of bestowing or taking away any of the things he wishes for.
EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §1. ¶10
In our modern day I would have to say that rare are the people who are totally free. Anyone who has a mortgage, debts, etc. is not totally free. If he loses his income and runs out of savings the "master" will come and he will have lost his freedom.ReplyDelete
In order to be totally free we have to not value these things beyond anything... we may lose our house, etc. but if we do not value it as most do in our society, then when the bank forecloses we still have our freedom.
Our society's need to own and possess is actually just making it weaker and more prone to destruction as seen in the latest financial woes.
Freedom seems to be really hard to obtain. Even the free-est countries contain the choice of who to be the slave to. So who is free? Am I happily enslaved to my family? Or am I devoted to them, holding them with an open hand, knowing that they are mine by their choice, and that only for a time. The important distinction to make is that devotion is not necessarily slavery. Distance and detachment and not necessarily freedom.ReplyDelete
Whoever has the power either of bestowing or taking away any of the things you wish for is your master and you are his slave. However, it is our desire, not the object of desire, that shackle us. But do not distance yourself from the world, nor detach yourself from others. Duty and devotion are not necessarily slavery, for duty is just action without a desire for reward, and devotion is moderate attachement without the illusion of ownership. Distance and detachment are not necessarily freedom, for distance is merely fear and aversion avoided rather than cured, and detachment is abandonment and estrangement in the name of selfish preservation. Instead, approach that which you fear, and see its true face, that it is not be feared, but to be understood with wisdom. Embrace that which you have abandoned, that you might take up your duty as a fellow soldier, and perform it with courage and integrity.ReplyDelete