"Freedom is the will to be responsible for ourselves." - Friedrich Nietzsche
The Oxford dictionary defines freedom as 'exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.' Throughout history, freedom as a concept has been at the very centre of public discourse and considered an essential aspect of human reality. Freedom is somewhat a given for those living in western societies, but it is still elusive and often denied to millions of others worldwide. Many of us trust and believe that we live as part of free societies. Societies that enjoy free and fair political systems and that value individual human rights.
For most of us, freedom is something that was fought for by previous generations. For people like our grandparents, freedom was worth the loss of millions of lives and the acceptance of countless hardships and sacrifices. Yet, if we fast forward to today, most of us have paid no similar personal price for our freedom and would appear not to have much willingness even to defend it. We have not lost family members for its protection, and we have not endured years of emotional and economic hardship to ensure its continuation.
Which does beg the question…
Is freedom even important to our collective consciousness anymore? Perhaps freedom is no longer required in a world where we have foregone large parts of our personal responsibility to authorities outside of our own personal power? Is it even relevant when we have less and less control over our day to day lives and our own self-determination?
Many of us now seem oblivious to the fact that the freedom we enjoy today came at the great sacrifice of others. We no longer consider their legacy and the fact that it implores us to acknowledge that the value of our freedom is priceless. We must be willing, as they were, to ensure its continuation and defend it at all costs. That defence comes partly in the form of our personal responsibility. Freedom and personal responsibility are two sides of the same coin. In fact, without personal responsibility, there simply cannot be freedom. If we take a step back and look at the loss of personal responsibility over the last few decades, we can see that it precisely mirrors our loss of freedom.
Perhaps the most concerning aspect of this is how we have recoiled from much of what has been central to our personal responsibility. Corporations and governments have recognised our growing distaste for even elementary levels of personal responsibility and have gladly filled the void. Often, we have begged for their assistance and help to ensure we have as little personal responsibility as possible. Their motivation and reward are money and power, and they have received staggering increases in both through this arrangement.
As our lives became more and more complex, this trading of our personal responsibility for greater levels of provision and control by external forces certainly felt like it made life easier. Soon, we no longer needed to give a passing thought to much of what had been previously essential to our existence.
Perhaps the most fundamental of these is the food that we eat. Today we no longer need to wonder where our next meal is coming from, let alone what we will feed ourselves and our families during a bleak, cold winter. Once, not that long ago, these considerations would have been central to every family. Now we have supermarkets brimming with a mind-boggling array of choices. For decades, this exchange of responsibility and freedom for security felt like a good deal, at least on the surface.
For the most part, corporations and governments have appeared to honour their side of the agreement. We have been overfed and contented. Though like cattle in a feedlot, there comes a day when the price you have paid for your cosseted life becomes patently apparent. For the cattle, it is the moment they are led to a truck. For us, will it be the moment when our beloved supermarket shelves are empty?
Do we then rush terrified and struggling to re-establish our lost personal responsibility. Do we then try to start growing food again for ourselves and our loved ones? Do we try to trade and barter from those with food (those unwilling to sell their personal responsibility like we were). Or are we forced to loot and steal and take from them?
No matter how we navigate the recognition that the deal we had made with those external forces is now no longer operational, one thing will be crystal clear. We will face the situation where our personal responsibility, so undervalued for all those decades before, now has a price we can no longer afford. Will we then understand that we have paid that price with our freedom? Somehow, in our unconscious consumerism's malaise, we have lost sight of freedoms, immeasurable value, and finite source. The reality may then dawn upon us that what we were once so willing to trade is almost impossible ever to take back.
About The Author
Terry Memory is the author of "The Smart Veggie Patch" which will be available through Pan Macmillan in July 2022. He lives with his wife Gemma, and their six kids live on a forty-acre organic farm in the Huon Valley in southern Tasmania, Australia. Terry and Gemma produce most of their food requirements for their family with a two hundred square meter Protected and Controlled Environment garden that also thermally heats their home. As a successful health food entrepreneur, Terry co-founded the 13 Seeds Hemp Food and Tasmanian Tea Companies on his farm. Terry is a passionate sustainability and self-sufficiency advocate with over twenty years of practical experience.
TAGS: Veggie Patch, Vegetable Garden, Raised Garden Beds, Growing Your Own Food, Self-Sufficiency, Sustainability, Homegrown, Homesteading, Off-Grid, Organic Food, Backyard Garden, Community Garden, Urban Garden