Escape From Freedom

Our greatest loss…


I’ve been preaching the gospel of human connection longer than I care to remember.

It has always seemed such a waste to me when I hear inane, braggadocious liners read word for word on radio stations at home and around the world.

Someone, at least one person and likely thousands more, has given you their attention for a brief instant and you squander it without any attempt to connect emotionally, to uplift or encourage or inspire in any way.

So I found this amazing book and immediately devoured its wisdom on a recent flight.

I had read The Art of Loving in high school and loved the insight of Erich Fromm. But I went searching for something that could help me understand what I am witnessing today in our world.

Luckily, I found THIS.

One of our issues is that we’ve surrendered the time for deep thinking about complex issues. We are so easily distracted by our gadgets and our own self-absorption.

I fear we are once again approaching the precipice of an awful abyss, and not just in America, but in democracies around the world.

And I wonder who can articulate the seriousness of the age within which we now find ourselves.

I realize most of those who read this post will not give one whit about this issue, and indeed will not care enough to give it 10 seconds thought, much less the quiet, concentrated thought it requires.

Consider this from a previous age of despots and dictators and a world at war:

Modern man still is anxious and tempted to surrender his freedom to dictators of all kinds, or to lose it by transforming himself into a small cog in the machine, well fed, and well clothed, yet not a free man but an automaton.”

…and this:

The crucial difficulty with which we are confronted lies in the fact that the development of man’s intellectual capacities has far outstripped the development of his emotions. Man’s brain lives in the twentieth century; the heart of most men lives still in the Stone Age.”

“The majority of men have not yet acquired the maturity to be independent, to be rational, to be objective. They need myths and idols to endure the fact that man is all by himself, that there is no authority which gives meaning to life except man himself.”

“Man represses the irrational passions of destructiveness, hate, envy, revenge; he worships power, money, the sovereign state, the nation; while he pays lip service to the teachings of the great spiritual leaders of the human race, those of Buddha, the prophets, Socrates, Jesus, Muhammad — he has transformed these teachings into a jungle of superstition and idol-worship.”

If, as I did, you see as if looking at a mirror, please read Escape From Freedom.

Even if you are only slightly intrigued, say…5 minutes worth, try The Paradox of Freedom by Maria Popova.

And if you believe you know even one other person who might summon the patience to reflect on the dangers we confront today, please share.