Freedom & the Familiar

I said to someone, earlier on, that the person needed to be free. So I got home, and I decided to check up the dictionary definitions of freedom.

Freedom (taken from

  1. The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
  2. The absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action

Which basically means that you’re able to do what you want, without constraint. We all know that there’s no such freedom in existence. There will always be some form of constraint in terms of thoughts of repercussion. However, the main point is that, you are able to do what you want to do, and make your own decisions.

Anyways, so I also thought to myself, that if freedom is one end of the spectrum, there’s obviously a different end. Which brings us to “slavery”.

Slavery (taken from

  1. The state of one bound in servitude as the property of a slaveholder or household.
  2. A condition of hard work and subjection
  3. The condition of being subject or addicted to a specified influence.
  4. The condition of being subject to some influence or habit

Definitions numbers three and four caught my eye. One thing came up twice in both definitions; “influence”. So, we peep the meaning of that as well.

Influence (taken from

  1. A power affecting a person, thing, or course of events, especially one that operates without any direct or apparent effort

There’s also the bit about “habit”, which is also defined as:

  1. A behavior or practice so ingrained that it is often done without conscious thought.
  2. A learned behavioural response that has become associated with a particular situation, esp one frequently repeated.

Where am I going with this? I don’t really know. I just know there’s a point here, somewhere.

I watched “Django Unchained” a couple of weeks ago. I remember the scene where Di Caprio broke open that skull, and was spewing that shit about black people staying slaves because it was part of their biological wiring. I remember because when he said that, I said to myself, habit. That was all it was.

These people had been born slaves.

For all their lives, and the lives of at least four generations before, all they had known was slavery. They were born into a world where they were told what to do, where choices were made for them, and they lived strictly for the pleasure of their masters. It was so bad, that even when they could’ve taken the lives of their “masters”, and set themselves free, they couldn’t do it.

Freedom was a concept they didn’t understand. Slavery was all they knew. Slavery was what they were familiar with. They were familiar with the habit of being slaves. Of being told what to do by Caucasians. They were familiar with being under this influence.


It’s funny how people talk about abolishing slavery in the world. It’s funny and I laugh whenever I here it.

Slavery will never die.

Why? Because slavery is not necessarily about putting chains around wrists and shipping a human being off to live in dehumanizing conditions.

Slavery is a state of the mind. I mean, Bob Marley said it himself when he sang “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery…

I realized, that just like the slaves that were bred, we as human beings can also be bred as slaves, through familiarity.

Where our decisions are not ours, our very lives are not ours. We do things because they make someone else happy. We hurt ourselves, and make ourselves miserable, just because it keeps some other person happy. We find no happiness in this, but we do it.

Because it’s a habit; because we’re familiar with it.

I’ve learned, vicariously, and through my own experiences, that living for other people, is slavery. Living based on the familiar, is slavery.

You know one of the worst things about slavery to me? It’s the fact that, the “masters” would take, take, and take, and drive their slaves on and on, and drive them till they broke their backs, or died, while the “masters” kept looking good, and staying healthy. And when the slaves were gone? They’d simply get more. In modern times, it hasn’t changed. They take, take, and take, until you have nothing left. And then when you’re all burned out? They move on with life. Because that’s what human beings do.

Fear and the familiar, are two things I’ve learned to fight against, in life.

The fucked up thing is, a lot of the time, these two concepts go hand in hand. We get so familiar with certain things, that we’re actually afraid to imagine a world where it doesn’t exist. Even though the slaves were being killed everyday, and treated as less than human by their masters, they could not fight for themselves, because they couldn’t conceive a world where they weren’t been told what to do; where someone else wasn’t responsible for their lives. So they would complain, and cry, and sing negro spirituals going “nobody knows, the troubles I’ve seen… nobody knows, my sorrow…” but at the end of the day, they’d still stay slaves.

I still don’t know where I’m going with this.

I just hope, that you’re reading this, and getting what it is that I’m trying to say. The familiar isn’t the right thing, all the time. Freedom, will come at a price. Freedom, is about stepping out of your comfort zone. Freedom, is about fighting for your life. For your rights. The right to make your own decisions, the right to choose your own path in life.

Fuck the familiar. Fuck what everyone else thinks should be.

“…we must learn, know, write, read; we must kick, bite, yell, scream; we must pray, fast, live, dream, fight, kill, and die free.” – Amir Sulaiman

About The Capoeira Panda

Panda makes his home in the world of words and metaphors. In the hopes to be more than just a confused blogger, he currently works as the editor for an ecommerce company that was good enough to hire him, and lives with his flat mates & two imaginary dogs who get along just fine. He enjoys reading good books, writing, relaxing with his friends, & poking fun at his mother over the phone. When he's not doing any of these, he sometimes sits back and wonders why anyone expects to learn anything useful about him by reading this bio. View all posts by The Capoeira Panda

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