“If you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking… is freedom.” These are the words of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
This quote was offered to incite thought about security versus freedom, thanks to a more existential prompt source, (sorry I’m late with this, by the by. I was sick) and I’ve been thinking about it this week.
A client came to mind: A white man in his 60’s, he’s just out of prison. He said that when he got out, they put him in a cab with $5 and sent him downtown. And that was it. He doesn’t know where to go or what to do, so he came to my center. He said that, in prison, his needs were met, he was in a structured environment and he had a pretty good life. He seems to feel overwhelmed: he doesn’t know what to do or how to do it. He doesn’t have any kind of structure and boundaries imposed on him and he’s lost touch with the ability to limit himself.
I think this is telling. Freedom is scary.
When you think about human development, or that of small children, they do best when they have boundaries. Boundaries give us security, something we can depend on. like a bee-bee, the soft and time-worn security blanket. We need those securities to flourish. I think the idea of “total freedom” is a misnomer. I don’t think it’s possible. If we had total freedom, we wouldn’t be a free as we thought.
Ew. That sounds so Animal Farm-y, doesn’t it?
And even when we are free, when we’re with other people, we will organize ourselves into a social order, without even meaning to. We see it in other species in the animal community, and the human animal does it, too. There are probably hundreds or thousands of social contracts in different places among different groups on the planet, and all of those contracts restrict one or another’s freedoms.
I would be willing to sacrifice freedom for security. I already do it every day. I still have my bee-bee.