Re-examining Freedom

Re-examining Freedom 

(Approximately a 4 minute read)

Up until around the time we became parents, Alain and I never questioned our assumptions about freedom.

The story of our time says this is normal:

  • to be chained to debt and to schedules, 
  • to have little or no control over where our food originates, 
  • to be walled off from nature, 
  • and to be more connected to each other via screens than in person.  

This post describes how we began to question that story, and to re-examine what freedom means to us. 

(This is Part 3 in a Series about our family's journey towards real and green.)


The story of our time

Alain and I, Florida, March 2005. Photo by Coco Baptist.

Alain and I grew up with the freedom to go to school and study hard for our future careers.

(As it happened, only Alain made use of this opportunity. I avoided hard work at school, and I left the moment I legally could.)

We both had the freedom to establish a career of our choice.

(Not all career choices depend on having worked hard at school. Fortunately, mine didn't.)

And then we both kept working hard to pay off the debt acquired in the building of our careers, and to fund the endless succession of upgrades and replacements mandated by our consumer-driven culture.

We are fortunate indeed to live in a time and place in which such luxuries are freely available.

But at this time in our lives it began to dawn on Alain and I that the apparent freedoms we were enjoying do come with their own chains attached.

The story of our time says it’s okay—normal—to be chained to debt and to schedules, to have very little autonomy with regards to where our food originates, to be walled off from nature, and to be more connected to other people via screens than in person.  

We began to question that story.

A unique vantage point
Personal responsibility and relationship skills: essential aspects of freedom.

Alain and I were blessed with a special vantage point from which to examine the story of our time.

Teaching horsemanship gave us the opportunity to travel and to experience deep personal satisfaction in our work – forms of freedom that we knew we were extremely fortunate to have.

Within the context of natural horsemanship, we studied and taught personal responsibility and relationship skills–essential aspects of what I would now call true freedom—for a living.

Our work and the associations it gave us provided an opportunity to learn to look at life through an unusual lens. Two of our most significant mentors, Linda and Pat Parelli, taught us the importance of making no assumptions and the value of questioning everything.

Questioning everything

Parenthood. Colorado, July 2008. Photo by Coco Baptist.

Parenthood prompted us to expand this “question everything” habit, beyond the previous narrow parameters of our natural horsemanship world.

We knew that open ended questioning leads to new awareness. That new awareness often results in discomfort, as a person tries to accommodate an expanding worldview within their previously existing boundaries.

Often, the new worldview doesn’t fit within the previous boundaries, and something has to give. Some form of growth or transformation is necessary, to regain equilibrium.

So it was with us – our worldview changed and could not be changed back. Natural horsemanship was no longer enough.

Tightly enmeshed

We began to see that far from being truly free, we were in fact tightly enmeshed in a web of cause and effect that we had not consciously chosen.

  • We were completely reliant on supermarkets for our food and consumables, and we had no awareness of, or control over, what happened to our food before it reached the supermarket shelf.

  • Despite our relatively free and privileged lifestyle (or perhaps because of it), we were bound to earn an income sufficient to service debts arising from a consumer mindset.

  • All around us, pervasive and largely un-examined, there exists a construction of subtle dependence on institutional and corporate providers – the long, dark shadow of the independence so coveted in our culture.

  • Despite believing that cooperation and collaboration are more useful than competition, we were heavily invested in the game of one-up-man-ship, the competitive game of how to be at least as good as—and preferably better than—the Jones's.

Our realizations led to a radical tearing down, and then a re-building, of every aspect of our lives: our physical circumstances and also our mental, emotional and spiritual constructs of who we were and how we wanted to live in the world.

The story continues with the next installment in this Series, coming soon.

Thanks for reading!

This post was Part 3 of a Series about our journey towards real and green. The rest of it is here.

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