Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Question

Sometimes home shrinks. The walls rise so high, like a pit of fluorescent lighting you cannot climb out. I cannot breathe and I feel every atom in my body panic as it collides against my skin- trying to get out. Every breath is hot on my neck as  it climbs the basement stairs to my private bedroom. Outside, I run, so their breath is lost to the wind that clears my mind. Only now can my heart beat to its own rhythm and I feel alive. Until I look down and the walls creep back up.               

On my cell phone there are seven missed calls and four frantic text messages. I know that I am in trouble. Tonight I am late for curfew again and I fear that my iPhone has betrayed my location, for I am not where I said I would be. The agreement was that I go to Boulder and return home by nine, but I made the decision to hike 4 hours north, past sunset. My first instinct is to be annoyed at my parents for discouraging an uphill summer stroll, but the second wave of realization makes me shameful. 
I hurriedly hustle home, as I mentally prepare myself for the battle awaiting. My tactic is to appear the opposite of how I feel. Therefore, I act nonchalantly and unphased as I join them in criticizing my irresponsibility. To them I may seem supercilious and disrespectful, but they don't know that it hurts me to make them worry. They are good parents and they deserve better.

I used to try to achieve freedom from authority through irresponsibility and it often does not work. With parents, the more irresponsible their child is, the more rules they seem to need in order to keep them in line. Supposedly, if you act responsibly, freedoms will be rewarded unto you. This has happened to me before; for example, when I more regularly update my mother with my whereabouts, I will be allowed to stay out with friends longer. Rarely do I consider this a freedom, however, when I feel that my gallivanting is being scrutinized. I don't truly feel free when my freedom is being watched. That is what drove me to not telling the whole truth, and furthermore, why I disposed of my nifty iPhone and downgraded to a retro flip-phone- no more online location tracking. This behavior is clearly irresponsible, so,
what is the relationship between freedom and responsibility?

In dystopian fiction such as Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Helmholtz is not responsible to the laws of his environment in order to achieve freedom. He allows himself to think and write in outlawed ways, which allows himself to remain responsible to his moral beliefs. His freedom is emotional freedom. In the end, he is outcasted from the society he is irresponsible to, and finds his own freedom in individual thought through writing.

Like in revolutions, must we be irresponsible in order to oppose freedom restrictions? When does responsibility jeopardize our freedom? Is freedom worth risking responsibility if it hurts one’s environment? Or is it possible to have freedom while being responsible? How does technology impact our personal freedom? And most importantly, how do we truly define freedom and to whom/what should we be responsible?

1 comment:

  1. Aliisa,

    Fantastic entry--your personal story, beautifully written, resonates with a relevance which makes ethics so interesting to ponder. I love how you categorize different modes of freedom. In addition, your catalog of questions will serve you well. By the end of the play, does Oedipus gain an emotional freedom?