The satisfied slave

Kevin Bryce

Kevin Bryce
Kevin Bryce

I’m graduating, and they tell me I can do whatever I want. What I want is the attainable because I want it. We live in a free country. School, work, travel, it’s all there.

They say it’s a recession, but if you want a job bad enough, you can have it. You just have to want it.

I’ve been raised to believe this you can do anything you put your mind to mentality is what true freedom is. And until recently I’ve believed it.

Today’s culture is in the business of satisfying desire. I’m not arguing that this is wrong, but incomplete.

This form of free living feels more like slavery. Should our desire be destined for satisfaction always?

Convenience is the current key to happiness. We all deserve the right to have our needs met. It’s the way of the West (as in hemisphere).

I agree, if needs means food, clothing and shelter. But when needs becomes a fuzzy term that could mean satisfying the craving for a good burger, I start to wonder.

Last week I fell skateboarding and broke my collarbone in four places.

On my way to the hospital I began to think of all the different choices I made that led me to that moment of slamming my shoulder into the concrete: I wanted a skateboard, so I bought one. I wanted it faster, so I screwed on some bigger long-boarding wheels and trucks. Heading off to my friends house I decided I wanted to bring the faster skateboard with me. Later that night instead of going to another friend’s house I wanted to go home to finish up a paper, so I left. And finally, arriving at the top of a hill, and seeing no cars passing at the bottom I decided I wanted to bomb the hill, so I did.

It was possible to deny myself certain desires, but I didn’t want to. It was possible to think through my decisions revealing any consequences they might invoke, I just didn’t want to. I easily succumb to my desires because I’m slave to them.

True freedom is the availability of getting anything you want, and the discipline not to. It is to avoid the consequence of destruction by denying simple little desires.

Freedom is not in the act of eliminating desire, but restraining it. Desire is a good thing, and to pursue it is noble when there is no consequence.

I’ve recently discovered the work of Marshall McLuhan who, some 60 years ago, explained the evolution of progress and the consequence of the ignorance therein.

Take the car. It is extremely convenient and has become a necessary accessory for the modern citizen. And lo, the car causes pollution, causing disease and environmental concerns.

The car causes death and injury daily. The car is a great financial weight, accident or no.

The car has pushed us into isolation for, often times, hours per day.

The car creates a lethal dependence on a black, liquid gold.

It sends countries to far corners of the world for purposes of business and war mongering.

There are yet no replacements for the car as convenient. But if the public let go of their dependence on it, another option would quickly arise.

I live with two married couples, one with child.

The pregnant couple had been practicing natural family planning, the other uses a more (ironically) traditional mode of birth control.

Last night I half joked that if I get married I’d like to try natural family planning. My roommate then told me that it involved about a 10-day window of abstinence per month. Jokingly I went back on my idea of natural family planning because sex is impossible to stop.

It’s one desire that can’t be restrained. It’s too normal. It’s natural. It’s even healthy, good for the heart.

Put simply, our culture is slave to it, if not the act, then the idea. It’s ludicrous to even entertain the thought that people could be convinced to practice restraint.

But for the sake of argument, I’ll try.

Disease is a side effect, but most times not terminal and if you play your cards right disease won’t be contracted, probably.

Terms like “unwanted pregnancy” and “the morning after pill” would be obsolete.

But who cares about abortion anymore? Then there’s the depletion of the family unit, but sex isn’t all to blame.

I have a few friends who are in what appear to be relationships, but what are really just addictions.

The two don’t get along and don’t really like each other, but every time they break up they inevitably end up back together.

“So why did they get back together?”

“The sex must be good.”

The car and sex are extreme examples, but they are some of the most apparent chains of modern culture that I could think of. There are many more.

I’ve truly only begun to live freely and I have infinitely more to learn.

But I do know the satisfied slave who wants nothing more than to sing beneath the sun as he works is far freer than the unsatisfied slave driver seeking to expand his farm and increase his profit margin.

I long to live as a satisfied slave, not to sex, progress, nor desire and success, but to God and the freedom therein.

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