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“Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne,
He travels the fastest who travels alone.”
– Rudyard Kipling

Pollution, drugs, repression, organized crime, poverty, wars, taxes … Will these issues ever be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction? It seems as though none of history’s biggest evils have ever been resolved conclusively. They occur and reoccur. And yet, every generation, there’s no shortage of individuals who will readily assume responsibility for these and other problems of the world.

You don’t need to live in a free society to free yourself
There are countless roads to freedom when you focus on the power you have, but your mind won’t allow you to see them if you’re too busy trying to change the prevailing views of others. In fact, you can very easily become enslaved by the whole troublesome process. Even if your efforts were to bring about significant changes, you would have to work just as hard to defend them.

Likewise, becoming involved in organized protests and mass campaigns is a sure-fire way to inhibit your freedom. When you join a large group of people and confront the powers head-on, you become an easy target. Government resources are limited, but if enough of you publicly defy it, it will readily devote those resources to you. Why draw attention to yourself? And how much freedom have you got in a 6’x 8’ cell?

The best hope you have of changing the world is living the best life you can possibly live and having your fine example become an inspiration to those around you
When you act alone you’re usually not worth wasting resources on. That’s why one thing that attracts me to minimalism is that it’s not so much a movement than it is a non-movement. It doesn’t require that like-minded “individuals” gather and organize, and yet there is still enormous potential for long-term social change. It’s a direct means of enacting your freedom and, therefore, an ideal medium for comfortably ignoring the influence of governments and harmful corporations. Minimalism’s adherents can freely and flexibly steer clear of Big Brother and say no to consumer excess without ever parting their lips, quietly making their own gradual shifts toward nomadic autonomy.

One act of liberation after another
And how do you achieve the carefree simplicity of a minimalist? Well, the most aggressive step you can take is to get rid of all your possessions. If that sounds a little scary, it is. But it doesn’t have to happen all at once and, in fact, it can be an exhilarating process once you begin. It actually becomes addictive – one act of liberation after another, a way to make one, or perhaps many, small improvements in your life every single day. And how can it not become addictive? It’s empowering to constantly realize there is something else you don’t require. When you continually discard what you don’t need, it’s like you continually discover new powers.

Leo Babuata boiled it down nicely, “One of the things I love about minimalism is that it doesn’t end. You don’t get to a minimum of things and say ‘I’m done.’ It’s a constant paring down.” Indeed, for those that strive towards the freedom of a simplified existence, as long as we still have “stuff”, the journey is ongoing and lively.

And the practise goes well beyond shedding one’s possessions. It’s also involves not obtaining more of them. It involves editing out all the non-necessities from your life. Forever. The noise and clutter, the bad news and advertising, the exhausted relationships and lecherous “friends”, the purposeless distractions, the costly investments, the meaningless obligations… Once you remove all the extraneous crap from your life, you can actually learn a great deal more about yourself. It helps you locate your true purpose and frees you to move on to bigger and better things. You can think of it as a new design for living – one that’s better tailored to your heart and health.

In a series of future posts I will detail some of freedom’s most pervasive inhibitors. Dealing with them may require a radical shift in how you think about your life.

Be sweet, retweet.

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