Was Robinson Crusoe free?

In our modern world, many of us have never enjoyed more freedom, never had so many opportunities to choose between and yet we are striving to find a meaning with the lives we are living. So we seem free but we do not seem to know how to use that freedom. We are talking about the type of freedom that gives you room to actually experience life and to be just you. A problem in our busy lives appears to be that we fail to allocate enough time – to live. Caught up in everyday obligations implies dividing time between work, home, children and social obligations. We keep building up our lives as if it was a project – a life project whose structure often places more emphasis on obligations to others than to ourselves. At the end of the day, are we limiting our own personal freedom? 

Freedom and feeling free have little to do with economic status, although it is often perceived as such. Money can give you the freedom to travel where you want and it sets you free from economic concerns – but this is not the type of freedom we talk about here. While day after day, month after month and year after year is passing with increasing responsibilities and yes, perhaps also enough money, many of us have forgotten the art of living. We grow older but how is this reflected in personal growth? There is no recipe as to how to live but perhaps we are too occupied meeting the expectations of others, this being family, friends and from the society around us. So we take it for granted that this is the “correct” way of living. Course of life is set, as is what we possess, how we behave and what we do. Standards are – whether we realize it or not – often set by others rather than by ourselves – and we live up to those standards and expectations. 

What about Robinson Crusoe who was stranded on a deserted island? Sounds lovely to many of us, but was he free? He was indeed free from other people’s demands, expectations and pressure, but for him the island became a jail. It was not his choice to be stranded there. Living on a deserted island is perhaps not an option for most of us although some deliberately seek to live isolated. Nowadays people are even willing to live the rest of their lives on Mars with no possibility to return the Earth. That is an odd thought and one cannot even imagine what their lives will become like. There must be something with the way we live that triggers people to break out and seek alternative life styles whether this means living on a deserted island, alone in the woods or even living on Mars. 

Free from what – that is the question. The freedom you get when your mind is no longer bound to what others expect from you, when you are ‘free – as a bird’ so to speak like the Beatles sang. Ironic when thinking about how we strive through schooling, studies, our first jobs, buying a first apartment or house, settle down, and then all of a sudden, we want to be free from it all. Perhaps we are spoilt and perhaps we do not know how to appreciate life as it is or perhaps we do not know how to define freedom. I believe the bottom line is what Bob Marley expressed "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds!"  

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