“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does,” Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness (1943)
Tucked in the corner of the garden lies a hole that leads to the rabbit warren. No one knows for sure how many different rabbits it is home to, for they all look the same and are dreadful as they terrorise the hard work of man who possess the luxury of time to do some gardening in their backyard.
Once, a frustrated housewife caught sight of a rabbit gnawing on her hard labour in his backyard during the day. The rabbit, unusually unaware of its surroundings due to the possibility of hunger that results from the natural destruction of habitat, was caught and made an example of.
The rabbit’s family, upon seeing the cruelty of man, decided upon leaving this part of the warren altogether and moved north, into another area of land where the intensity of vigilance is much lesser. For as long as the family could remember, this part of the land had been empty for decades, until the emergence of these hairless creatures, food was in abundance.
The youngest of all rabbit in the family was named Schmidt. Coated with thick, grey fur to protect against the cold weather in Europe, his assigned role for the day was to remain behind the bushes while dad went foraging ahead for food. Little did he know he was about to witness the tragic end of his father being acquainted with a wooden baseball bat.
With the bat on her right arm, she inches slowly from behind, hoping to herself that the rabbit will somehow be complacent and not react to her proximity until it was too late. Two steps away from her target, she leaped off the ground and swung the bat at full strength, with the impact sending the victim flying few feet away from its location.
Shocked and paralysed, Schmidt watched the lady with long angel hair carry his father’s body by its hind legs with her left hand, slinging it over her shoulders. With a sly smile on her face that exudes a sense of pride and arrogance, she yelled:”We’re having stew tonight!” on her way into the house.
As he stood firmly hidden from the world, his eyes were locked to his father’s dead, vacant stare. As if he is still there, but not there. At this point is when Schmidt was reminded that it was his duty to keep watch and to signal if those hairless creatures were to come out. Despite his inexperience, his father’s life was thrust upon him, and paid it with his life.
Schmidt knew not what to feel nor what to do, all that he knew was to never, ever step a foot out in the daylight for as long as he is alive.
Bounded by this rule he set upon himself coupled with the consuming guilt of failure that had resulted death, Schmidt spent his entire life living in the shadows alone, never knowing the warmth of the sun nor of kinship and love, until eventual death took place.
“Those who thus slip into the anonymous masses will never be other than members of the impersonal flock, having fled from themselves into self deception,” Alberto Knox, Sophie’s World
Valiantly fought across different time and space, liberty is seen as the cornerstone of humanism, of humanity and freedom. To have the choice to do whatever that is the will of an individual, to be free from the bonds of slavery, serfdom; free in the truth that all man are born equal and shall suffer no discrimination of any kind, regardless of race, religion and gender or any other conditions.
It is a noble cause to live and to die for. And despite the injustice that we still face around the world as of this moment, it cannot be denied that the world had since grown from the beginning of time.
And although the freedom that I have in this country that I live, is bounded by the injustice of political self interest, I fear there is also threat to liberty that exist lies within;for man often talk about external liberation before internal liberation.
Just as the poor rabbit suffered, this prison is the prison of form, and it resides in the mind.
Beyond the death toll of conventional diseases that inflicts the race of man, exist the disease of ideas that had propelled the outbreak of war. It is ideas that we surround ourselves with, that leads to the values we uphold. And the consequences that come with the impurity in the nature of values, had drove us to grab each other by the throat, throwing rocks and waving swords.
Ideas became the seed that was sown in our minds, and clashes of ideals such as democracy against communism, religious faith, etc was the fruit of our labour.
But the problem does not end here. This prison possesses a dual nature: in the form of ideas, where it could be rationalised and developed beyond its primitive state into proper ethical code of conduct, and in the realm of irrationality of human emotions.
There is no denying that the only difference between man and animal is the ability to rationalise. Thus we are not free from the animal instinct that burgeon us. Logically, there can be no use in denying our impulses. The only choice that is presented to us is to understand it and accept it as a part of humanity, for the perfection only exist within the realm of imperfection.
But too often I’ve seen people reacting to their impulses without fully understanding them. Jumping to conclusions, they are akin to the Schmidt the rabbit, reacting to the impulse to run from pain is so strong and compelling that it feels natural to do so.
Nature had armed our mind with the fight or flight mechanism, and until we understand why do we fight and why do we take flight, only can we be liberated from the tyranny of the mind.
In the past, empiricist had argued that what cannot be quantified and defined does not exist. It is what Phaedrus had believed for a long time. But to deny our irrationality, is to the deny ourselves, to deny the work of God, to deny nature.
On the other hand, to indulge in our irrationality in ways only a romantic knows, to not think, is also denying what differs us from our ancestral root, an act of rejection from self, an imposition of the possibility of human life. What then, would be our difference from the primates that we point and laugh at?
Thus, a balance must be struck. Man must be able to rise above and beyond logical dissertation and irrational behaviour, to see both as a sum of one, and to decide accordingly with its relation to nature.
Only then, I believe, that we could be unbound from our fear, societal obligation, dogmatic principles and values. It is then, we could be liberated from ourselves from our mind and immerse in the warmth of light of kinship and of love.
It is only then, will we ever live and die living.