Essays on Freedom - How Many Choices Have YOU Made So Far?

(by Samira Nagem Lima - Belo Horizonte-MG*)

Youth is a very productive phase of life because it is when some of the major choices for the future are made and start their path to accomplishment. What college will I choose? What subjects will I pick? Should I follow an academic career or work in the corporate world? What about dating? Should I start thinking about marriage? Do I already know what love is yet? How does one go about starting a family? All these queries surfaced when I was a teenager and I presume that, in some way, they will be present my whole life. Inevitably, they will participate in building my future.

Our world is filled with opportunities. We can choose the paths we want to follow. Still, does this guarantee my individual freedom?

I've always believed that my freedom could be restrained by others: by parental control during adolescence; by the violence in the streets that locks me down at home, or by my superior who doesn't free up my vacation days. In sum, I never believed that I could work against my own freedom.

Can I do that? How? How can I be responsible for suppressing my own freedom? Just imagine living in a world like ours, filled with opportunities, but being subjected to other peoples' choices. Well, this was the situation in which I found myself and in which, I observed, many other people do as well. What is the use of having so many choices if I am not the one who makes them? To be free is not to have a thousand possibilities, but surely to have the capability of choosing them without the interference of others.

For a long time I didn't manage my own life but kept on believing that I did. It is easy to understand how this could happen. How many times were you ready to make an important decision and refrained from it until you first consulted someone else - not necessarily an expert or anyone versed on the subject but a friend or a family member? How little we think about what we need in order to achieve our goals! We don't think about the resources we already possess for that endeavor, nor about do those that we still need to acquire. We often wonder: who can help me? And we always end up with a survey about what the other person would choose if he/she were in our situation. The approval of others gives us a false sense of assurance that we are on the right track. The choice may or may not be accurate in view of the consequences it brings, but it was not I who chose it. I don't even need to ask or consult anyone for his/her opinion for the interference to take place. The interference is not always verbalized. Many people happen to make certain choices just because a friend would do it, or their father did it. Others happen to believe that they desperately need the latest state-of-the-art cell phone with a thousand features, just like his colleague at work has.

Quite often I believe to be in control when in fact other people's thoughts are the ones taking care of everything. In my inner self, the thoughts that used up most of the space in my mind were those of insecurity and fear about my future. These ended up causing a lot of damage as they led me away from my responsibilities, and subjected them to the will of others. Even simple decisions concerning physical or practical issue grew to become huge doubts in my eyes. I allowed the thought of fear about my future to inhibit my actions. I ended up creating bad consequences for myself.

It is inside our own mind that such thoughts dictate our actions. How then could I take over the reins of my life?

This will only be feasible if I first get to know the mechanism of my mental system. This has been one of my great challenges. It is a practical exercise in which I make use of the faculties of thinking, reflecting and observing, among others. The efforts, as well as the practice, are carried out with great joy. Nowadays, whenever I'm faced with a decision, I try to identify the thoughts that will be useful and those that will be useless in this endeavor. I need to exert myself considerably to manage to fight the most recurrent ones before they cause any damage. Through the acquisition of knowledge, I expand my conscience and therefore the possibility to be free - free and responsible for my own choices, and for as many options as necessary to build a solid future for myself.


*Excerpt from the book "Essays on Freedom"originally published in Portuguese. Based on Logosophical Cognition.


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