They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity–for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 2 Peter 2:19
Perhaps I’ve been reading/studying too much Foucault and hence I’m asking all these questions, and feeling this way. But honestly I would say that these are long standing issues which I’ve struggled with for quite a long time now, just deciding to textualise it now after today’s triggers and depressive phase.
Once again, how free are you? Are you slave to your emotions, diet, mental state, to God, to laws, to obligations? To real things, people, systems, or yourself? Your body, your budget, or what? Insidious things which trap you and you don’t notice, you simply obey.
I am trapped by my future anxieties. I wrote about this before: even if I decided to drop out of school today and be jobless, I will not starve, I will not die. I could bum off, I could be homeless, and honestly I’ll be ok – I can sleep on the streets, I can eat leftovers if need be, I can beg. The only thing I lose is my privacy (but being a ‘child’ honestly I can bum in my parents place. I could leech off them).
I am trapped by the system. I learnt stuff about ageing landscapes today: there is discrimination, yes, in economic landscapes (not hiring old people, ageism). But more than that how our landscapes are rigged to cater to young people – think hipster cafes with narrow corridors and steps, hindering mobility. Disabled people? Or even people of minority races – think eldercare in Singapore, there is easy socialisation for Chinese people (speaking in Mandarin, dialects), how about old Malays and Indians? Convenience of halal options in eldercares and elderly socialisation opportunities/entertainments?
More personally, stuff about the system. We learnt this last week in public housing landscapes and I felt REALLY uncomfortable. This links to Engel’s housing problem: capitalists/governments build homes for us. We want these homes. They are good for us. But they trap us as well. We are trapped by our desires? We end up having to work for these capitalists who precisely make us these houses. Or in Singapore, as the government (mandates) public housing, they collude with capitalists to chain us to work for these capitalists, being responsible citizens who work for companies in order to pay for our houses. What have I done? Are there alternatives? Sure there are, but being homeless doesn’t sound like a nice one. Neither does selling away much of my life paying for a house. A good 30 years of my life?
I’m trapped by people. Filial piety, Asian values. I would like to give back, yes, I believe my parents have done a lot for me and I love them, but it still doesn’t take away the fact that I feel stifled. Relationships, friendships, yes I am meant to love all of you, and indeed I do, but it doesn’t take away the fact that I have a responsibility to you. And I am greatly uncomfortable. What if I were free from all of you? How would my life be like?
I remember getting REALLY ANGRY at this paradox: I was telling my friends about how I am stressed out by expectations, of others, of my own expectations which stems from what I think others will expect of me. Friends who love me tell me not to care about what people say. I wanted to shout back at them, I wanted them to see their selfishness: while they tell me not to care about what others say about me, they want me to consider what they said about me. I am not meant to prioritise what other people expect from me, but I am meant to listen to what they have to say and meet their needs/demands of me. Give them my time. Energy. Myself. Where do I fit in this picture? Am I made up to meet people’s needs? How much of myself belongs to me?
I feel like running away sometimes. To leave everyone behind. To leave all these things behind. I’m frustrated at how I’m ‘comfortable’, how I am living the typical Singaporean life. I did all the right things, I’m following the right path. I’m successful. I can see the rest of my existence and it seems bleakly banal. Sure, I could do other things, but I am trapped by stifling fear as well. What lies beyond where I am? Uncertainty. And what if I wanted to come back here? Having left, would those who loved me before still love me? They may say so, but truly I doubt it.
I’ve been thinking about unconditional love as well. About how God loves us, and how we are like me, in feeling trapped and escaping by cheating (idols, serving other things). The concept of unconditional love: allows the other person to choose to leave, but still loving them even when they are with someone else. But even though the cheater comes back/or is away, the faithful one still loves. No matter what. It’s just that the faithful one demands that the other remembers that the faithful one is perfect, and they are ‘superior’ to the cheater. There must be submission of the cheater to the faithful one.
So, honestly, how do I get free?
What is freedom? Suicide is the ‘best’ answer: you’ll stop thinking about this shit. There will be no boundaries because you just cease to exist. But it’s obviously (I hope) not a resolution/answer you’ll consider.