Choosing the system: Making the required a choice

Last couple of videos, I talked about the idea of being taken care of, being in this whole network of institutions, in government, school, business, that kind of manage our lives.
And contrasting this to the idea of being autonomous, where we control ourselves.
And as much as it seems in most ways it’s very practical to have a lot of this kind of organized institutional setup, it’s also somehow missing something, in that if we allow ourselves to be too passive and too much just taken care of by the institutional environment, then we kind of lose, I think, something of our own character, our own nature, the sense of freedom, self-determination, the ability to make our own decisions and somehow guide the path of our lives.
We have to compromise that in some way, but maybe it doesn’t need to be a complete compromise.
It doesn’t have to be either entirely cog of the system or completely independent from the system.
Somewhere, we have to find a point of compromise there.
And so one way seems to be to just become aware of how we are directed and controlled and managed and supported by all the institutions that are around us, all the network of different influences around us that shape our lives, and just become aware of them.
And when we do that, then it seems like we can look at our lives as- we can see ourselves as being participants in this overall system.
Instead of just automatically taking it as this is the background state of “This is what life is, this is the way the world is”, sort of automatically, but see it as something that really is constructed.
There’s nothing automatic about this whole system of institutions, governments, businesses, the way everything’s set up.
There’s nothing automatic about it.
And it’s certainly possible to imagine other arrangements, including an arrangement without organization, a state of anarchy.
So maybe imagining this can sort of- it gives it a different kind of frame.
Instead of just assuming that these things are there to take care of us for granted, instead we see them as very special arrangements that happen to be the case now.
So you know, we can imagine this, simply by going through the thought experiment of imagining anarchy, imagining no organizations taking care of us.
So imagine no government.
And we don’t have any obligations to this institution, but we also don’t have any of the protections of the institution, so then we would have to be independently defending ourselves.
And it seems like the result of that would be people would assemble into essentially gangs, and there would be very chaotic, dangerous conditions.
And so looking at it that way, now the thought of paying taxes, somehow it’s kind of agreeable.
Now, this is not to say that we should just let governments do whatever they want and be complacent about it.
But just seeing alternatives, imagining alternatives to the way things are now, I find often can make me appreciate the advantages of the way things are now.
Now, of course it’s also possible to imagine another scenario that somehow is better.
But at least we can see that it’s not automatic to have anything better.
And so the way things are, and the way the way we’re set up, if you imagine taking it all away and then building it back up, so that we imagine life without any of these outside forces, and now bring those outside forces back, and think “Oh, OK, I’m OK with that.” So it can almost reach the point where I can make a conscious decision.
I can say yes, I do choose to be a participant in this system, that I will pay taxes, and I’ll give some money to this business or whatever.
And even though it’s not entirely really my choice, just by imagining the possibilities and considering that yes, I could imagine other ways of being, I could reject the system entirely, but I can then make a conscious decision to choose to do what I do rather than just assume that it’s automatic or that I’m doing it simply for fear of punishment.
So this is something that I find helpful, to just feel more of that sense of autonomy, almost like feel like I’m choosing to participate in in this overall system.
But I can imagine this could be a controversial view that maybe depends on how you feel what the system is, and how you fit in it.
And so I imagine for some people, this might even have the opposite effect.
Imagining the absence of the system just makes it even harder to accept being part of the system.
And of course, the whole idea of what a system is, this “system” that we’re in”: this whole thing is very vague and abstract.
But I would be curious to hear if anybody has a different experience sort of imagining how things could be different.

#thesystem #autonomy #personalfreedom

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