Although I now have two cats (Mao and Bruce), I was previously opposed to keeping pets because I felt that it was unethical to subject another sentient being to a life deprived of freedom.

Recently, my thinking is more along the lines of:

  • Both are rescued cats that would have been put down otherwise.
  • And (more importantly) freedom is defined in degrees, and absolute freedom is impossible.

Unlike cats with collars, we like to think that we are free. The truth is that numerous factors limit your freedom. Some are natural (eg. humans can’t fly), a number are psychological (eg. you’re scared), and a lot are circumstantial (eg. you have no money).

I’d define personal power as the ability to affect the limits of your freedom. This often mean making yourself or others work to facilitate what you want to do. On the other hand, collective power is the the ability of a group to extend everybody’s freedom.

Technology can bring great collective freedom. Advances in medicine and telecommunications potentially empower everyone beyond their natural and circumstantial limitations. Unfortunately, technology can also be restricted and controlled to benefit only a few. Similarly, money seems to often only bring power to individuals and groups, rather than all of humankind.

To many, life is a struggle to improve your level of freedom, and money is a straight-forward path to power. I think this is why so many people work hard to earn money. It affords them some self-determination, so that they can live without so many basic concerns.

Control of money often equates to control of freedom, and the more that you control the freedom of others, the more you can demand for yourself. I think that this is why there are those that seek control of money (not just acquisition of money, but control of the financial system).

Freedom should never be taken for granted. It’s important that we recognise our desire for reasonable freedoms, and that we contribute to securing these freedoms for others. Unnecessary imposition upon the freedom of others is reprehensible, but unfortunately all too common.

As evident throughout history, collective social power is usually the greatest form of power. We can all play a part in affording greater freedoms when unified by common philosophies and committed to standing our ground.