June 14, 2020
On Saturday night, I watched in horror as Rayshard Brooks was murdered. Sunday morning, “I woke up with my mind stayed on freedom.” What is “freedom?” How does it happen? Freedom=Agency
Freedom from Control: The struggle to expose what’s keeping us trapped mentally, economically, physically, and spiritually and to seek liberation from them.
Freedom to Be: The struggle to uncover what keeps us from experiencing who we indeed are and the embarking on or continuing a journey to a “wholeness” that is implicitly or explicitly absent.
“Agency” is “subjectivity.” It is an ability, capacity, and opportunity to make choices, as a way to express free will.
A “false subjectivity” comes when the significant choices we have are between different types of products, like beverages or clothes, for example.
A “genuine subjectivity” comes when exercise the choice of the type of political and social system that will usher in freedom from suppression and in the freedom to live an actualized life.
Dimensions: Freedom Conditions
One way for us to liberate ourselves — to take back our agency — is to struggle to change the “status quo.” Since “freedom happens” as a result of a coming together and a transformation of our mental, community, behavioral and socio-economic conditions, our struggle for freedom must be a multi-dimensional one.
Freedom and its Sources*
*This is an adaption from Ken Wilber’s Integral Vision Model
Developmental Lines & Levels: Freedom Stages
Our “conditions” for making freedom happen are also lines of development that unfold through stages. Using a simple 3-stage model, we traverse a path from pre-Freedom, to Freedom, to post-Freedom. We have to mature psychologically, behaviorally, culturally, and socio-economically.
Freedom: A 3-Stage Model
While my model suggests a straight path, on the contrary, the journey towards freedom wanders and meanders, and there are possibilities that we may not be able to move from one stage to the next.
Types: A Freedom Orientation
Regardless of the “levels,” we have an array of personality types that range from aggressive to passive, for example. People have different world views, mental models, paradigms, or “known worlds” that shape how they view and respond to changing conditions. Understanding the “role of orientations” is essential as well. Different and competing worldviews can be healthy sometimes and unhealthy at other times. We must work to reconcile the differences in our mental models in a way that includes rather than excludes requires lots of attention.
States: A Freedom State Of Mind
States by their nature fluctuate. However, they are important because they create the possibility to conceive and re-conceive new worlds and new “sets of conditions.” Toni Morrison reminds us that “imagination” is a mental state (thoughts, dreams, revelations) through which we imagine new possibilities. “True creativity” is to be able to conceive of life-enhancing rather than life-denying social systems.
Strides Towards Freedom
The interaction among the dimensions, lines, levels, types, and states of freedom set the context for attaining a freedom “from” and “to be.”
On a personal level, we have to strive to free ourselves from the impulses, habits, ways of thinking, conditions, and circumstances that entrap rather than liberate us. On the community level, we have to struggle to co-create organizations, institutions, and systems that collectively support our freedom.
As today’s protest movement illustrate, we know how to make freedom happen. Let’s keep it going. Our “agency” will determine the ultimate resolution.