The Fight for Freedom IS Freedom

Many ask: What’s the point of being positive if the world, including even the once great United States, is going to hell in a handbasket?

My reply: If you give up in defeatism, there’s nothing left worth saving. If everyone gives up hope, then there’s no means by which to fight, since hopeless people don’t win fights; on top of which, victory would be meaningless if everyone were hopeless.

The idea exists that hopefulness is naive and foolish. Such an idea comes from a false definition of hope. “Hope,” by this definition, means certainty that all will turn out well. For a lot of people, this false belief starts in childhood. Mommy or daddy tells the young child, “All will be well,” knowing full well that something isn’t going to turn out right. Sooner or later, the child discovers the parent was lying — not just honestly mistaken, but lying. False hopes are built up throughout most people’s childhoods. Given this fact, it’s little wonder they become cynical about hope, given that hope and falsehood have come to mean one and the same thing.

Hope can be reasonable. Hope, rationally speaking, means that to go on living is always preferable to death. To a rational person, there’s nothing better “beyond life,” meaning that there’s no supernatural realm. To some this is shocking or even negative, but to a rational person it’s simply a fact. A rational person concerns himself with the pursuit of values in a context of objective reality, not fantasy or belief detached from reality. To a rational person, it’s always better to live than to die, unless there is objective proof of hopelessness (which there rarely is).

Given that it’s virtually always better to live than to die, there’s always a reason to pursue values. A negative person will think, “But there’s no guarantee I’ll get what I’m pursuing. Therefore, it’s hopeless.” This is wrong on two counts. First, there’s no proof the value — however difficult — won’t ever be obtained. Second, this attitude overlooks the fact that the pursuit itself is valuable.

When you’re trying to achieve something important, the very act of  pursuing it is, in itself, the value. Consider the example of freedom. Freedom is slowly perishing in the United States, and has been for some time. But  there’s a growing fight for freedom, too.  The American founders themselves told their contemporaries, as well as future Americans, that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. All this means is that something difficult has to be maintained, and often fought for over and over again. To become depressed over this fact is to expect that important thing — freedom, in this case — to be less than it really is. Those who expect highly valuable things like freedom to be frozen in place forever, without a constant fight, are much more foolish than the rationally hopeful they seek to put down.

You can extend what I’m saying to any important value in your life, whether it’s freedom or something more immediately personal, such as your career, relationships or other difficult and valuable things important to you. You might observe that nothing good comes easily — and nothing good stays in place forever, at least not without maintenance — and conclude, “It’s all hopeless.” To succumb to this attitude is to conclude that if something good can’t come easily, and stick around easily, then it’s not worth having. Now that IS a hopeless attitude, but it’s one that makes no sense because it’s self-contradictory. After all, if something is so valuable in the first place, valuable enough to be depressed over its loss, then why would it ever make sense to stop fighting for it, or to refuse to get it back if it’s lost?

Too many people seek fairy tale endings. They look for a frozen state of happiness in which life, at least at some point, becomes effortless. This is the fantasy of Heaven, Nirvana and the other myths people have quite frankly created for themselves. This is the mythology implied by the daddy telling the little girl, or the little boy, “There, there, I promise everything will work out perfectly” even if no such thing is true, or possible.

The absence of a sure thing, of a fairy tale ending where happiness is frozen in place, is what leads most people to become depressed or hopeless. It’s more than laziness, and it’s far more destructive than laziness. It’s the false belief that if nothing good and important comes easily, then it’s not worth having.

As for freedom: If you give up on it now, then you’ll surely never have it. The very act of fighting for it means that you are, to that extent, still free.