We’re taught that freedom is a concept worth fighting and dying for. We’re taught that freedom is what makes the United States of America the greatest country on Earth. Freedom, we’re taught, is man’s divine state; to abridge or steal it is a kind of crime against Nature.
Yet most of us abdicate whatever freedom we possess. We do it voluntarily.
Trading credit default swaps and manufacturing ammunition clips might make us millionaires – or multi-millionaires or, if we’re really lucky, billionaires. Owning the biggest house (and boat) on the block very well might earn us the admiration and respect of our neighbors. And if everything works out just so, joining the right club and entertaining the right power broker could conceivably get us more power and more club invitations. But at what cost? We willingly work at jobs and acquire properties and maintain relationships that often feel meaningless, sometimes vile.
For most of us, these entanglements require an implicit trade-off: we sell our freedom for money, social status, and material possessions. Work long and hard enough and you buy your freedom. Until then, you’re a kind of slave to your desires and attachments.
To be liberated from these attachments – to “things,” mostly – is freedom. If you’re not trading a large portion of your life in exchange for the objects you think you “need” and want, you’re genuinely free, and not just because you have more “free time” to exercise your American right to luxury. You’re free of the chains that bind us to living lives we wouldn’t otherwise choose to lead.
The idea is not to avoid work but to avoid working for specious reasons. Unlike the material striver, the freedomaire doesn’t view labor as a necessary evil, something compulsory to “pay the bills.” The freedomaire loves work – when it’s done in the service of others, and not merely to acquire the trappings of a “better” life.
The freedomaire’s life is not for sale. There’s no amount of money, no blank check you could offer, that would convince a freedomaire to sell his freedom.
Let others be billionaires. The freedomaire is genuinely rich.