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Here in The United States, the 4th of July is the day The Colonies broke free of England – our Independence Day. The last of this month will be a sort of personal Independence Day, as I will be retiring. I started working as a waitress at a bowling alley when I was 14 and have been paying $200 a week in taxes for 80% of the time thereafter.
That got me to thinking about Freedom, personal freedom. People keep looking at me funny at work, wondering why I’m retiring while I’m still in good health. Around here people keep working until they are carried out the front door feet first. So what else is there to do post-job besides sit in a dark room, shivering in the cold, praying that the phone rings?
Of course everything I need to know I learned on Star Trek. In the year 2063 Zefram Cochrane fired a rocket (the Phoenix) into space using the very first warp flight engine. This meager step into star-travelling was seen by the Vulcans. The Vulcans were so pleased to see us that they gave us the technology to make food replicators. This technology made possible the “synthesis of organic and inorganic materials via arrangement of subatomic particles” (I got that last part from Wiki). You can see Captain Piccard using this technology when he walks up to the food replicator and says, “Earl Grey Tea hot”. I’ve wondered what would happen if someone walked up to one of those things and said, “Couch French Versailles”. Would a wall get knocked out as the couch suddenly appeared? Probably not – at least not in a Utopian world.
Freedom. Freedom from hunger and want. Freedom to pour all of our energies into exploring our world and our universe. The freedom to invest our lives learning about whatever we want, to do whatever we want, to become whoever we want to be.
There is a basic Star Trek principle here: once people are no longer threatened with starvation, they will choose to do productive things with their lives, for the greater good.
Another principle is that when people have access to all the knowledge in the world, they will choose to learn as much as they can about everything they can, for the greater good. That’s freedom as well – free access to education. Unfortunately, I ride the bus every morning with dozens of people who have the knowledge of the cosmos at their fingertips – but everyone is on Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Facebook – but life is more than social media.
However, if, in even a utopian cosmos, humans choose to talk to each other constantly about Uncle Clem and his fiancé who live on Proxima Centauri 2, then that’s their right I suppose.
In this day and age the only way to achieve freedom is through acquisition of money. Without money there is hunger, and as long as your stomach is empty, it is impossible to be truly free to do what you want to do. Safety is also a must have. If a human doesn’t feel safe they will always be in a flight or fight frame of mind. Money is Freedom and Poverty is bondage.
So what am I going to do after I retire – when I finally have the freedom to do what I want? I’ll read more, hike more, write more, cave more, buy old cheap movies and watch them whenever I want to, and not be mad at myself for waking up in the middle of the night and being unable to fall back to sleep because I get up at 5 AM in the freaking morning. Instead I will have the freedom to watch all the late late night scifi and terror shows like: The Twilight Zone, Thriller, and Night Gallery and then sleep until I wake up.
Freedom – personal freedom – I hope I’m still alive and doing well to see the Vulcans show up in 2063.
In this month’s issue, The Muse offers 4 stories where the main characters are searching for freedom in their own way: #1 is a man who frees himself from an insufferable acquaintance; #2 is about the freedom to choose your own astrological sign; #3 is how to escape a common office workplace; and #4 asks the question –if humans are free to have peace, why are we always at war.
Feel free to enjoy this month’s reading offerings at your leisure.
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