On Freedom in 2022: the individual, the collective, and a way forward
The collective consciousness of humanity is surrounded by an energy that is asking us to explore the meaning of freedom. I think every one of us all around the globe has been asked to contemplate the meaning of freedom over the past two years. I include the little ones, too, because they’re always thinking about freedom. My sense is that, coming from the expansiveness of the soul-place and then finding themselves suddenly in their baby and toddler bodies, totally reliant on their parents, they have to navigate the challenging journey of somehow becoming free once again, from within the human body now, and inside the human experience.
Clearly, this is not an easy task. We’re not very good at it a lot of the time, as a collective. We have a history and a current-story of enslavement, colonization, dominance, and oppression. We are easily confused by the many layers of pain and fear within ourselves, which create an ego-field of murkiness that stops us from our search for truth while we get caught up in the worry about what everyone else thinks of us and how we fit in. We all want to be loved, to give love, to be free to follow our hearts, to breathe in fresh air and to experience nature, to experience this life in a way that feels right at the very deepest core part of ourselves. But we spend so much of our lives feeling trapped within the experience of being human, not free to be our authentic selves at the best of times, and at the worst of times, finding ourselves suffering violent wars and occupations of body, mind, heart, community, and country.
There is a lot to dive into on the topic of freedom and humanity, but my purpose in writing this is to respond to the current situation in the world, and the idea of “toxic individualism.” I read a meme recently expressing the idea that freedom in North American culture is steeped in toxic individualism, and this meme was in response to the convoy of truckers whose stated aim is to protest for the freedom and rights of all Canadians at a time when what they are seeing looks to them like government overreach with health/medical mandates.
Some believe that people who do not agree with governments mandating medical procedures for their citizens are selfish and overly individualistic, or even toxically so. This perspective says that one’s freedoms must come second to the good of the collective, because we are all responsible for the best possible outcome for the collective. If an individual’s freedom to choose comes in the way of the good of the collective, then that individual’s freedom to choose should be taken away. That individual is deemed as not having the collective’s best interests in mind, and is, therefore, selfish.
It seems perfectly simple, but I’d say we have some nuance to deal with.
The Materialist Collective vs the Spiritualist Collective
Let’s look first at the collective and the purpose of the collective. The purpose of the collective from a materialistic stance is to ensure the survival of the species. Materialism says that there is nothing beyond the physical, and that the emotional and psychological existence of the human being stems from the brain and its perception of matter. In materialism, this life is all there is, the human is the body, and the death of the body is the end of existence. Survival and fear of death are key motivators of human behavior in the paradigm of materialism.
Western society is currently materialistic. If you’ve lived in our western society for any period of time, you have naturally been brought into contact with its programming and conditioning, which has told you (without actually telling you) that materialism is the prevailing perspective that we hold in education, health, economics, environment, psychology and in all aspects of human existence.
Here’s something that is difficult for many of us to accept: even the dominant spirituality of our society is rooted in materialism because spirituality is used as a means to materialistic ends. We use spirituality to try to make our material lives better rather than giving primacy to the soul. So we live with a foundation of the fears of death, poverty, loneliness, sickness, and in a state of being motivated by survival. Much of the time, if we’re honest with ourselves, we can talk about spirituality without really believing or behaving as if we are anything more than the material.
Imagine a scenario in which very convincing scientific modeling told us that humanity would completely die out within two years, unless 20% of the world’s population was gotten rid of within the next year, in which case the resources for the remaining 80% of the population would begin to flourish and humanity would survive and thrive. The materialist’s perspective would be to get the best brains together to figure out how to get rid of 20% of the population within the next year. That makes perfect sense in this paradigm. But it doesn’t feel totally right.
It doesn’t feel right because we are not solely material beings. We are much more than the body and we are naturally aware of this fact; all of us are aware of it at some level of our being.
From a spiritual perspective, the collective is meant for a completely different purpose. Spiritual views say that there is a mystery called the soul, life force, or higher self, and each human is connected by the soul to the Creative Source of all existence, which is vast, cosmic, wondrous, ineffable and eternal. Spirituality says that life as a human is one small part of the much longer journey of the soul, and that life on earth is filled with the presence of the Creative Source that brought it all into existence. The spiritual view says that life itself is an energy form that is the responsibility of the one who created it, and what has been found in the gnostic wisdom, across ages and places, is that the Creator is Love and Light. The purpose of the human collective, therefore, is not to ensure the survival of humanity, but to honor and serve the journey of each individual soul, and by so doing, to honor and commune with the Creator.
The spiritualist sees earth as a school where every soul has agreed to take part in the learning. As with any school, there are practices and rules that are followed to keep things orderly, but these are the rules of the Creator and they can never be the rules of a human or group of humans over another human or group of humans.
If the same scientific modeler came along with the same grim news, the spiritualist would say: There is no way that any human or group of humans could make that kind of decision over the fate of any other human or group of humans. The spiritualist would seek connection with, and guidance from, the Creator, as an individual. Each human would be recognized as a soul with a purpose for being, and with an inner life of thought and potential for connection to higher consciousness to guide his or her actions.
The spiritualist takes a non-oppressive stance. She sees the reality that the human, being imperfect in ability to understand all aspects and factors of life, is not in a position to be in ultimate control of any other human’s life. Through the honoring of open communication, dialogue, transparency, reason, and logic, all of the souls present on earth in human form would have an opportunity to participate in knowledge seeking. Solutions not currently available to the scope of human thought would come forward, and these would ultimately be inspired by the Creative Source via the consciousness of life flowing through every human. The nature of these solutions would be soul-honoring, not soul-destroying.
A desire for connection with the Creator is natural and need not be forced. The spiritualist understands that the Creator’s rules do not need to be enforced by humans, one over the other, but by each human upon him or herself. And the spiritualist leaves that enforcement in the hands of the Creator. There is trust involved here. That’s why the ability to trust the Creator is an enormous lesson in spiritual life.
While the spiritualist experiences the same fears of death, poverty, loneliness, and sickness, these fears are brought into full awareness and are faced head-on in the struggle toward inner freedom from them, so that they do not form the foundation from which solutions and decisions are made.
Not a call to mix politics with religion
This analysis is not a call to mix politics with religion. It is to point out the need for each individual to become aware of how they are seeing the world and the nature of human life. Is it conditioned? How is it conditioned? Does it come from a place of materialism? Is it based on fear? Indeed, these and other questions, along with a growing awareness of their answers, will affect the way we understand the individual in relation to the collective, which will in turn inform the ethics we use to honor or destroy human life.
This is a term that I’ve only recently learned as it has come up in response to the question of mandating medical procedures for citizens rather than giving them the choice. These mandates occur through the use of medical passports that allow access to society as well as freedom of movement, leaving those who choose to not undergo the medical procedure heavily marginalized without access to society.
Toxic individualism has been used to label those who do not believe that governments should be allowed to mandate these medical passports.
If we look at the term, though, it would make sense that toxic individualism is referring to self-centeredness, where an individual can see only his or her own needs to a fault, being unable to honor and see the needs of others.
When self-centeredness is found in the academic, professional, and political classes, who hold the power and privilege of formulating policies that affect citizens, individuals who believe that they know what is best for all other humans, without agreeing to dialogue, transparency, and a commitment to seeking truth and understanding, are in fact entirely toxically individualistic, to the point where they use their power tyrannically.
They lack the humility to recognize that they may not have all the answers and that they, too, are fallible. Instead, they use censorship to stop discourse and reasonable debate. They use labels and intimidation to marginalize opposing viewpoints rather than demonstrate transparency and openness to new information. Ultimately, in their insatiable narcissism, they come to rely on lies to maintain their power. They use propaganda and fear to divide and control other human beings. Moreover, they do this often convincing themselves and others that they are helping because they are so self-centered, and afraid of being wrong, that they see themselves above others, rather than surrounded by fellow human beings.
They have lost all sense of compassion and honoring.
Selfishness and the Convoy of Truckers
To give up one’s livelihood, career, to be ostracized, shamed, looked down upon, these are things that would, from a psychological standpoint, indicate some sense of purpose, duty, and even courage, rather than selfishness, flagrant disregard of others, frustration, or shameless desire to be free at all costs.
The convoy of truckers, the protesters, all those who oppose mandates do not appear to be selfishly enjoying a lack of access to society, whether they experience it for themselves or see fellow citizens having to endure it. In fact, it doesn’t seem like a self-centered thing to do at all.
Instead, it may actually be selfish of people to enjoy access to society while judging and simultaneously having little to no interest in dialoguing with fellow citizens who are being marginalized, even as those who are marginalized have indicated serious enough concerns and reasons for making a choice that is putting them in a place of difficulty within society. This becomes even more apparent when those in a marginalized position are being denied a platform in which to talk about it all, to not only have to listen, but to be listened to, as well.
I would suggest that the sort of self-centeredness inherent in the toxic individual in a position of influence and power can lead to a toxic collectivism that we might term “hive mind.” The hive mind does not occur when people of diverse backgrounds–diverse in thought and experience–come together for a common cause. The hive mind occurs when diversity of thought becomes squashed because there is a fear that thinking and expressing differently from the collective will land you as an outsider, which may pose a danger to your very well-being.
Hive mind can be used to impose so-called virtues from the outside-in, and to appear as a strong collective, but the result is a weak society filled with fear rather than real kindness. The march toward tyranny probably always ends up creating some level of hive mind.
From the spiritual perspective, hive mind is antithetical to the real purpose of the collective, for it cannot possibly honor the journeys of souls. In a society where the freedom of each individual to listen to their inner guidance is highly valued, there can never be a collective characterized by sameness and lack of choice. If some sort of hive-mind-sameness were to occur, it would essentially mean that there is a dominating aspect of the collective and a dominated aspect of the collective.
What does freedom look like in a society?
The question, then, is how can freedom work within a collective? How can we come together in communities and societies while honoring the soul journey of the individual?
The only possible way is through the pragmatic ideal of pluralism, in which space is created for diverse perspectives to be heard, and for diverse ways of being to be accepted. Pluralism is a defining characteristic of a society that is not oppressive and that values freedom because it upholds the need for all citizens to be represented, and for even opposing views to co-exist. I imagine that meaningful discussion, transparency and openness, tolerance and understanding are all central in a society that is pluralistic.
A society consists of many individuals seeking to live peacefully with one another, to pursue their soul journey, which might involve seeking and sharing knowledge, growing love through family and friends, exploring nature, and countless other activities. There is much that comes to be shared among the individuals, but there are always going to be differences. We have been created as individuals and placed into communities; each one of us is unique.
A Way Forward
Our society appears to be divided and at an impasse. The strange thing is that we’ve come to a place of such fear and heightened emotion that we are unable to dialogue. We have been relegated to interacting with so many people in our lives as if nothing out of the ordinary is happening in our world, exchanging pleasantries, or talking through memes, but mostly holding ourselves back from really exploring meaningfully with one another for fear of finding more rifts created where togetherness once was.
If we want to get to the pluralistic ideal of a society that honors the individual and that values the collective, we have to dialogue. We have to come together and trade information with the honest intent of learning something new. And I would suggest that the marginalized, out of necessity, are always more aware of the prevailing attitudes, information, and knowledge, than the majority are aware of the marginalized perspective. So there needs to be a concerted effort to hear out the marginalized.
My recommendation is that we begin the process with ourselves first, through “the inner dialogue.” The inner dialogue helps us become aware of our fears so that we can clear up space to seek more truth for ourselves. The inner dialogue is a conversation between all of the inner parts of ourselves. We speak from the mind and hear the subconscious. We speak from the heart and hear the soul. We speak from silence and hear the Higher Self, the Guide, the Creator.
Use a journal. Sit with yourself. However you want to do it. Remember to listen.
Begin with focusing on what you hold centrally true, at the very core. The truth at the core comes through the lessons and experiences of one’s life, as well as those rare moments or glimpses that touch the core, like moments of love or nature, we know them to be real.
Once you sense a core of truth that you can be strong in, then begin to look at the parts of yourself and your knowledge that you are willing to question. Sit with the discomfort of the thought that parts of you may be conditioned in ways you are unaware of, or that the possibility exists that you have been making decisions or holding opinions based on falsities. What fears arise for you?
Welcome yourself with open arms to the school that earth is, where being wrong is wonderful because it means your eyes are open, and it leads to growth and wonder. Sometimes the things you question show themselves to be truer than ever before, while other things need replacing with new knowledge.
Your Guide, Higher Self, Creator (always present with you) will show you what to do next. You might listen and hear nothing, but if you notice it, you’ll recognize something like peace, or the fact that someone gives you a call and something feels different in the way the conversation goes, or you find something interesting to read. You can undoubtedly attribute so much to the act of having had the inner dialogue. And you can go back to the inner dialogue whenever it feels right for you.
Now if you’re like me, before you go out into the world, you’ll need to wear a protective energy suit so that you can really listen to others and engage fully rather than be afraid of harsh energy that can sometimes be created inside you, out of your fears of the world. The energy suit protects you in a way that is real, so that you don’t have to employ your ego’s arsenal of false protection, which always leaves you feeling dissatisfied. Some people imagine a bubble of energy all around that creates a protective barrier. I recently heard a talk in which an amazing lady called Amelia Perkins recommended putting on an energetic hazmat suit.
The work of the inner dialogue, the opening, the sitting with fears, all of it can seem difficult. But the spiritualist recognizes that the work is what is needed to navigate the challenging journey of somehow becoming free once again, from within the human body, and inside the human experience.
And in case you'd like to share your inner dialogue with me or connect with the angels, I provide energy and angel sessions in my therapeutic work with families and individuals. You can get in touch with me, or learn more/book a session at my website: www.nadiajamal.com