CLUTCHING AT FREEDOM – Marilyn Armstrong

I want everything to last forever.

When I buy a television, I don’t expect to ever buy another one. I will keep using the old one until it simply won’t work anymore … or someone gently tells me that I really need a new one.

“Oh,” I say, “But I just bought this one.”

“You bought it 14 years ago. I can’t even connect most things to it. It doesn’t have the right connections.”

“Is it really that long ago? It seems like yesterday.”

It does seem like yesterday because I can remember buying it. I remember deciding which TV would give us the best pictures, be reliable. Which is how come it lasted 14 years. Actually, it still works. It’s just too old to be of much value — and too huge to get rid of, so I guess it will live in the basement forever.

The only things I buy more or less on a schedule are computers because operating systems change and software won’t run on old systems. I don’t want to get new computers. In fact, I hate new computers. Setting them up is a total pain in the butt. But I cope because I need them.

On the other hand, things like refrigerators, washing machines, ovens? The roof, the water heater, the floor, the sinks, and toilets — aren’t they forever? Don’t you buy them once, then never have to worry about them again?

I’m on my third water heater and beginning to worry about the roof. I’m discovering that the vinyl siding wasn’t a permanent investment as I thought it was. And the ants keep coming back.

Just to remind me how impermanent the world truly is, the rights we fought so hard to create, the young are fighting for them. Again.

Early 1900’s protests against the czar in Russia

How can that be? How can we have made so much progress and find ourselves back — not only where we were, but back to where my parents were. I feel like we haven’t regressed to the 1950s, but more like the 1930s.

The changes we make, the changes we paid for, fought for, battled for … they are supposed to be forever or at least for our lifetime. The roof should never need to be replaced. The heating system should be a lifetime investment.

Freedom should be given — and once achieved, you should always be free. We should never need to battle again for the right to live our lives as we please. I don’t think we should have to fight for it in the first place. We should be born free and take on obligations as a conscious choice.

Freedom has come and gone many times throughout human history. Rome was free until it wasn’t. Greece was free … until it wasn’t. Many countries were briefly free until swallowed up or conquered by others. I guess it’s our turn, my turn, to realize that the freedom I thought we’d won was merely a respite from the despotism of the world.

I’m not sure why it’s like this. Why is it freedom for which we need to fight? Why doesn’t tyranny require a battle? Why do the bad guys always seem to have the upper hand?

I think it’s because we let them. We say “Oh, a few huge corporations won’t really matter” and then we look around and the entire world is made up of huge corporations and we don’t matter. We give up our freedom incrementally.

We surrender it for higher wages, cheaper toys, nicer cars. We give it up because it sounded like fun and we don’t see the downside. We elect the wrong people because they sound good. We fail to examine if they are really who they say or are capable of being who we need.

We do it. Ourselves. We give up our freedom in tiny pieces until we have nothing left to lose.

Freedom is a costly gift which does not come to us without commitment and a battle. I didn’t imagine I would live long enough to need to fight for it again.

Is that some kind of bizarre payback for living longer?

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

15 thoughts on “CLUTCHING AT FREEDOM – Marilyn Armstrong”

    1. On your reblog, the second youtube video is blank, but it’s working on my site. Go figure! Hope you are having a wonderful evening with good friends and lots of hope for the future. We could really use a GOOD year.

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      1. Christine has gone to bed. The car picks them up to drive them to the bus in Guad at 7 a.m. tomorrow. Fred and I listening to music. I pack up tomorrow and leave Wed. for two months in La Manzanilla.. Trying to remember everything to take. I overpack.. kitchen stuff, food, tools, art supplies, printer, computers, etc.

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        1. I overpack for everything. Especially in the winter. Who KNOWS what the weather is going to do? Will I need boots? Slippers? Heavy nightgown? And maybe we’ll go out somewhere. Bring a big computer? Maybe I should bring both and Garry’s too. I have given up light packing.

          Good luck and take my envy with you to la Manzanilla. We’re getting wind and sleet.

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  1. I do expect things to eventually need replacing even though I’m always surprised when the time comes around to do it. I did not expect we’d have to fight for our rights all over again, in the workplace, the rights of the poor and homeless, the right to have an opinion. It seems to me too that all the ground we gained in the last hundred years is going and as old and tired as we are we’ll have to speak up again. Or maybe the Millenials don’t really care. I feel like I’m living in sci-fi story sometimes.

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  2. I don’t think freedom is a gift. If it were, then the giver could take it back. It’s something that has to be taken and perhaps fought for. I don’t believe tolerance and generosity is in the basic nature of human beings. I believe (as animals) it’s our nature to fear the loss of our resources, whatever they are. I’m not happy this is how it is, but I’ve seen it played out over and over throughout my life, that whoever seems to offer the best protection of what people believe to be their threatened resources is elected to office. Letting people be and accepting them as they are is a pretty enlightened position.

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    1. I really thought we’d made some progress. But this is the way it rolls. Countries rise and fall, freedom comes and goes. It’s just unsettling when it’s not in some history book, but it’s your country, your freedom, your life. “Letting people be and accepting them as they are is a pretty enlightened position.” Actually, that’s the essence of freedom. But that’s not what’s happening. Not even close.

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