1984

Big Brother Is Watching You.

Fortunately for us, this statement is utterly false. It is not the year 1984 and there is no man named Big Brother watching our every move. There is no “Thought Police” that can incriminate you for even having negative thoughts against the government. There is no language called “New Speak” which tries to eradicate human thought and emotion by dumbing down the English language. Children are not taught to spy on their parents at school, and there is no “Room 101” that holds our deepest and darkest secrets.

I recently listened to the audiobook of 1984 by George Orwell and was compelled to write about it. 1984 is one of the most chilling novels written in the 20th century; a novel that carries very strong 21st century relevance. Many famous movies have been based on the novel, such as “Minority Report” in which police officers travel back in time and arrest criminals before they actually commit crimes. 1984 is also referenced heavily when it comes to politics. The next time you read an article on the news about a law that will grant the government more power to watch over its citizens (think about the Patriot Act in which the US Government can spy on its citizens if they suspect you are a terrorist) hear carefully for the word: “Big Brother.”

The novel is cold and chilling, and dehumanizing to the human soul. Feelings such as love are crushed in the novel, and it ends very tragically as well. I feel that Orwell’s message of the book was twofold; to warn us of future totalitarian governments as well as encouraging us to value the freedom of our every-day lives and to truly live life (as the protagonist is not able to).

As much as people say that the US government mirrors something like that of Big Brother, they are totally mistaken. For the most part, we can spew our thoughts about anything our blogs or even speak up against the government without fear of execution (although we may be arrested). We therefore have a huge sense of freedom in our every-day lives. If we want to go out for a walk in the park, nobody is going to stop us. If we want to say “(Insert explicative word here) (enter name here)” we can say so without the police busting through our door and arresting us. If we want to kiss our loved ones, we can. The freedoms I listed may come off as silly and trivial, but they are some of the simple things in life that make us human.

The freedom of emotion is one of the most overlooked freedoms as well. Love is one of our strongest emotions and being able to actively express it in word or in action is one of the greatest human freedoms indeed. If you have something to say to a loved one, don’t hold it in. You have the freedom to say it. Likewise if you are angry, feel free to express it. Although we think of emotions as irrational at times, there is always a reason behind our emotions and how we feel.

So if you want to tell your mom you love her but always felt that it was awkward or something, just go and do it. The worst thing that can happen is that your mom will give you a weird look but the best thing that can happen is that she tells you that she loves you too. Are you a guy and ever wanted to tell a close friend that you were thankful to have him as a friend but felt that telling him that would make you sound “gay”? Toss away those thoughts as well and get on top of that bromance. Guys have feelings too. Ever want to tell your significant other that you would give your life for them and that they meant everything in the world to you? Well chop off an arm as proof and toss it to them as a token of your love.

But in all seriousness, there is no “Thought Police” constantly monitoring your thoughts and your actions. We are all blessed to have the freedom of emotion, as well as a countless amount of other freedoms. So don’t be shy or timid. Take control of your life and do not cower at your emotions. Rather empower yourself and others with it. After all,

Big brother isn’t watching you.

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The Freedom of Choice

When former Nazi soldiers were put on the stand during judicial hearings on the horrors of the Holocaust, the most common response after “I was just following orders” was “I had no other choice.” These Nazi soldiers would tell the court how they were threatened to be killed if they did not obey their superiors, which gave them “no other choice.” However this was not recognized as a legitimate plea and many Nazi soldiers were executed for the horrific crimes they committed against humanity in which 6 million innocent Jewish lives were put to death.

Lately I have been listening to a series of lectures about “Existentialism,” which is the most general philosophical idea when it comes to the individual and his or her place in the world. It addresses many different aspects of human consciousness and thought, one of them being on the freedom of choice. According to the philosopher Sarte, we always have choice regardless of our situations. Even given the extreme example of Nazi soldiers during the Holocaust; they literally did have the option of not following orders from their superiors, although it might have ended in severe punishment or death.

Our lives are definitely not as dramatic as soldiers from World War II, but we might often feel suffocated and that we have a severe lack of choice in our lives. Some of us may feel constrained by the will of our parents and feel that we have “no choice” but to follow their wishes, rather than our own. They might end up dictating what majors we are to study in college or even what careers we pursue under familial pressure, the threat of withdrawal of financial support, or even as severe as the idea of disownment. Even under these kinds of circumstances we still have choice.

You still do have the choice of choosing your own major and pursuing your own career. Your parents do not literally have you locked up and tied to a wall which prevents you from making these decisions. Rather, we just choose to comply with their wishes because we are afraid of the repercussions. But think about it. You are the only one who holds the power of making the decision in your hands, legally and physically. When you are over 18, the law gives you the freedom of choice and to be fully independent from your parents and make your own decisions. And as long as you are not locked down in the cellar of a basement, you have the ability to pursue whatever your heart desires.

However for some reason, people internalize the idea that they have “no choice” and are never able to see all the other options that they may have. If you are miserable in your life, you have the option to be happy. It is just a matter if you make the decision to pursue it or not.  There must be a reason why you are unhappy. Missing love in your life? Go out, join clubs, and try to meet people that you are compatible with. Miserable at your job? Quit it and find another job. Tired of being overweight and made fun and judged by others? Clean up your eating habits and start exercising regularly.

Now you might be thinking to yourself “its not that easy.” You might be considering that there are all of these other complications that I am not taking into consideration. This is true to a certain degree. Although we do have the freedom to choice; it might not always be absolute. For example, although we have the freedom of choice, we cannot decide to run if we have no legs. The same goes for the idea of wanting to see if we are blind.

Although we literally do have the choice to make almost any decision in our lives, we must approach this from a practical and pragmatic point of view. If you were a mother of 5 and working full-time to support your family, it would probably be a terrible idea to quit your job to pursue art. Although the action of calling your employer and quitting would be physically possible, it wouldn’t be very logical.

Although we have the freedom to choice, it is most often excuses which get in our way. When is the last time that we told ourselves that we were going to exercise and lose weight but only to make the excuse that we were too tired or that we don’t have enough free time? We constantly make excuses to not to do something rather than make the excuse to do something.

We got to quit being lazy by constantly making excuses to transfer the blame away from ourselves. We are the only ones who control our lives, nobody else. When we are unhappy, we are always quick to blame someone else or something else. We are fat because of McDonalds. We are stupid because of television. We are bored because life is dull. We never take responsibilities for ourselves and for our own actions.

We constantly have the power of choice, regardless of how subtle it may be. If there is a new hobby that we want to pursue, we cannot make the excuse that “we don’t have enough time” or “we’re too busy.” Anybody can make an extra 30 minutes a day in free time. If we learn to cut something out of our schedule such as watching TV or surfing the net, this time can become easily available to us. Or even to people who don’t do that, we can wake up 30 minutes earlier or sleep 30 minutes later. There is never a legitimate excuse for not following our passions. If we want to pursue music, pick up your dusty guitar and start playing. If we want to lose weight, put on your shoes and go outside. If we want to feel loved, pick up the phone and talk to a friend.

We gotta quit making excuse and take responsibility of our lives. Live life to the fullest and with passion. Remember, the world is yours.