Friday, September 2, 2011

Planning Your Escape... by L. Truman Daley-Douglas

Crispin Glover wrote this: "When you join in conversation with strangers, do you openly discuss any idea whatsoever without fear of conflict? Or do you restrain yourself from discussing certain things for fear of offending people and then becoming an outcast?"

How many times have we quelled what we think? Have we subverted our own thoughts? How is it that the stupidest among us have no fear in speaking while we bite our tongues? That they can proudly voice their opinions that mirror the status quo while we sit back and cringe? They face no outcast. They cement their stupidity and are rewarded for it. They are good citizens. They are the majority.

Throughout my life, I have been obsessed with the construct of slavery and freedom.

Slavery is defined as:
1. (Law) the state or condition of being a slave; a civil relationship whereby one person has absolute power over another and controls his life, liberty, and fortune
2. the subjection of a person to another person, esp in being forced into work
3. the condition of being subject to some influence or habit
4. work done in harsh conditions for low pay

My definition of slavery is a bit different with elements of the above definition included though. To me, slavery is a mindset. An acceptance of the way things are. The inclusion of yourself into this acceptance. A castration, a defeat, a surrender.

Some people can rid themselves of certain social shackles like religion. They can see the folly and silliness of it just through rationality. Some people question further into the idea of what a family is supposed to be. They can question what society says a woman's role is supposed to be. They are able to loosen bonds that are unhealthy and not just submit to their parents due to some societal obligation. Some people are able to question the concept of marriage and what that is supposed to mean and entail. Some people even question what "age" means and stop "acting their age" for age's sake. All the "supposed to be this way" ideas, ideas about homosexuality, formal education, children, and a entire host of other social constructs can sometimes be retooled in people's minds with new constructs to replace these old "societal constructs". But not so much with the idea of slavery. On some level, it's because of the fact that people have to make money to survive. And a JOB, i.e. working for someone else, allowing yourself to be exploited by someone else for their unequitable greater gain, is ONE way to make money. After all, they came up with the business. You didn't, despite the fact that you now make their business successful and reap only pittances compared to them. You think to yourself, "Well, I am free. I can quit anytime." Of course, this rarely happens. People stick in these jobs they hate. They have to make money after all. They have to eat. I get that and do not hold anyone blame for this way of being. It's their thinking I don't get.

I hate slavery. I hate the mindset that slavery puts the best of us in. It's not the "job" itself that I hate. I know we need to make money to afford the comforts we want, to pay our bills, to take care of the family. It's the state these "jobs" put us in. The thinking it changes. Those who worked at Burger King while young saw it as "making money". There were no illusions. We weren't in our careers. We didn't care about was short term, even if it seemed to last for years. It was a way to just make money. We didn't take it too seriously. We still had our dreams.

I saw college like that. It was just a short term thing even though it had lasted 9 years. I saw law school and getting my MBA the same way. It's just something I went through. I didn't take it too seriously. I knew my dreams were still waiting for me. I saved my seriousness for them. I'll enjoy their benefits. But something happens to most people I know. They got into a "job".

It had nothing to do with what they really wanted to do. It was a way to make money- at first.....But then they began to see it differently. It became more long term. They wanted the benefits and other things outside of just making money through it. You got a new car that you probably shouldn't have got. Things that you really didn't need. Well, I'm working after all you think. This is the way life goes, you think. The job sucks but everybody has to work. My bosses suck, but all bosses suck. The system is unfair but what can I do about it? So you participate in that unfair system. It pisses you off daily but you succumb to it. You dread the end of the weekend. You dread the shit you are forced to deal with every work day. All the same time, knowing you could do things better if you were the one in charge. But you accept, submit, belong. After all, you just aren't the "master type". You could never do what they do because you'd do things differently.

An accepted "job" slowly changes the way people think. It enslaves them. It is no longer "I have to make money"- it becomes "I have to have this job." It is a small distinction but the language behind it frames the reality of the situation. By seeing the situation as no longer doing work to "make money" and allowing the situation to become "having a job" and all that entails, they lose their freedom. It sets in that slave mindset. And that mindset traps them, allows them to become true slaves. It's no problem you think-everyone is like you, they have jobs too. They have to submit too. They have bills to pay too. It's okay. You can conform. You must conform. You have responsibilities. You can shelf your dreams. You must shelf your dreams. They did too. The ones who even had dreams, goals, and ambitions to begin with. And that makes it okay. The standard is lowered. After all, everyone "has" to have a job. Everyone else is a slave as well.

And there are benefits in slavery and the slave mindset. When Moses freed the slaves, only 1/3 left with him. It's easier to just accept things the way they are. To think you cannot be your own master. That requires a lot of confidence and intelligence to do after all. But damned, most of your bosses were idiots. Huh? We'll just ignore that, you think. They had rich daddys. Bigger penises. Some magical business person quality.

That always freaks me out. How much people of all ages are so alike. To think outside the box, you have to be outside that box. It's not enough to be in your office cubicle and hate being there. YOU ARE THERE. And that's okay...we all seem to get there somehow at some point. There is no shame in that. Society is powerful. Conformity and its expectations have a way of pulling us all in at some time. I was there too. But I got out. What are you going to about it? Are you going to sit there and plan on how you are going to use your employee benefits? Or will you be heroic and begin to think how you are going to get the fuck out of there and pursue your dreams? Because whatever you think while you are in that box, you are just wasting time.

If your thoughts are not directed towards your freedom and the dreams that can only come true through this freedom, that box becomes your prison. But even then, it's okay. Being in a prison has two options. You either accept your sentence or you start to plan your escape. Because otherwise, you will have a lifetime sentence there. I think for the most of us, fear is what holds us back. BUT more so it seems that laziness keeps us back. How many times has a good idea been forgotten because of this? How many days do we wait when we can act now? How much do we discredit ourselves when we know better, when we know we can do things better? How many times have we quelled what we think? Have we subverted our own thoughts? How is it that the stupidest among us have no fear in speaking while we bite our tongues?

SLAVERY pisses me off. It pisses me off when I see what should be a free man putting on slave shackles. It pisses me off to see slave collars in the forms of neck ties around their necks worn with pride. Slave watches that remind them of their bind to time and they don't even realize it. How many times do you look at your watch when you are at your job and wait for your freedom?

FREEDOM has to be earned. True freedom won't come by sitting in that cubicle box and waiting to the clocks strikes your "off hour". That's not freedom. To be free, you must first free your mind but then you have to do something else. YOU HAVE TO ACT on what you know, not think, to be right. It has to be your "right" and not theirs. How many of your thoughts are really theirs? William S. Burroughs said "Language is a virus." I think what he meant was how we communicate to ourselves spreads within ourselves. For most of us, it enslaves us, but for others, we can earn freedom through it. Change the narrative and act on it. Be free. Plan your escape. I promise you, it's better on the other side.

-L. Truman Daley-Douglas
Guest Contributor

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