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On freedom and Obligations


In a letter to Frans Ton describes some observations.

Successful Chinese business man in their forties lose their perspective in life when they reach all goals set in their twenties. Materially all is okay: a good house, money at the bank, a wife who takes care a kid. The money inflow goes on. ‘They feel empty’ reports a young Chinese psychologist. They live according to the Confucian rules: take care, respect and help each other. But……

No I

A Chinese communication expert having a ten year training in the US writes: ‘I say: That is a very nice coat, because the maker is famous, the colour is the colour my mother likes, in all the magazines this is said the best and most nice …..and so on and so on..".

“It took me years before I could say: 'I like that coat'. We, Chinese, are not trained in saying “i like….., I want…..., I…” We orient on what we think are the rules for this or that. All has to be justified as being in line with …thinking of the parents, dominant thinking in society,…name it”.

Happy on my own?

A  Dutch girl traveling around the world and asking people, in trains, at the street, to tell what makes them happy today, or yesterday and write it with a drawing on a card, told she ones got the answer from a man raised in Asia, "I feel happy on a success in my career I had yesterday, but I feel guilty at the same time that I feel happy on my own, I should feel happy in my family, who is not here. Feeling happy about my action as such feels not as a right thing to do. But I do feel happy".

Breaking out

A Chinese woman in her thirties, Wang Xiaoping, wrote several books, in one, that is very popular in China, she discusses the Chinese primary and secondary schooling. She points to the dominant obedience training instead of independent thinking, feeling and valuing. She quit high school herself and lives as an independent woman. She has influence. She lead groups of people who try to practice these ideas. Independence is very important for her. Marriage? No, she does not want to give up her independence. She is now describing a life philosophy she creates herself using all knowledge on meaning of life. After her first books she came, six years ago in ‘a writers block’. 

She went through a crises in search for her inner sources. She connected to her inner forces. This is the beginning of her new book. Finding the connection with all, yourself, others and nature by using your senses. `Your senses will lead to feelings, emotions. All emotions have their positive and negative forces. This is new for me, I think in negative and positive feelings. She sees feelings as sources of forces, actions. Feelings as action forces to positive or negative results.

Change is possible

A Chinese woman, in her thirties, lives in the US with her young child and her mother. She gave brith in the US and now is a student at a university in San Francisco. Her husband does not speak any English, visits her often, but his work is in China. She writes ‘after three years of marriage I said to my husband this is the first time you ask me for an opinion, on my ideas. Yes I change I value you now as an independent person, not just as a wife with my child.  

Obligaties and freedom

Frans finished reading the book of Bergson, Matter and Memory and writes.. The key point is that everything is related to the body and balance between need to survive where all obligations come from and make ideals and free choices.That make people happy. That is why I am happy with work. It gives me purpose. I can chose and do. In Australia I see life close to nature and bodily health. China is a prison of community, family and other obligations. One cannot be happy on one self, only when family obligations are done. I experience this with my wife, who cannot live with unhappy parents. Many Chinese in Canada and Australia miss the family life and China feeling. They have achieved life outside China but are not "home".

Freedom from….freedom to…

Ton writesI learned the concepts ‘freedom from’ and freedom to’. I do not know now where I got these concepts, but these make sense for me. .

As a child, young boy or girl we are trained in the ‘best ways of doing our parent can give us’. A training in obligations and the behaviors that fit these relations.

When becoming of age, in puberty most of the time, our drive to self unicity is coming up and resistance comes up. Mostly in the form of having ‘freedom of…’ Not committing, or counter committing

Later in age the opportunity for choices is an option. In that time one can make a choice to fit in a system, for a lot of reasons and with giving up certain ‘freedoms from…’ to go into ‘freedom to be a part of the family, and take specific consequents for the free choices in life’.

Commit to obligations

For instance. A woman get breast cancer. She has two young kids (9 and 13). Het husband travels a lot, does not live home, but takes care of the money. Her mother and sister living in the same city take care of her. Her most close friend moves to another city in the south of China. She invites her to join her. ‘Only my family will take care of me. They live here. I stay close to them’.

Can a family be a bond of free commitments that creates freedom and support? Or without the family bonds: create partnerships that are for better and for worth. For live? In the sense of my cooperation model: an important condition for strong cooperation is the willingness to cooperate without an end. ‘Till death us part’. 

Obligations first, then…….

Frans, Yes, freedom to…. and freedom from…..are nice concepts. Willingness to accept obligations differs from one person to another. I like to have obligations for fulfilling life. I took care of my paralyzed sister, others could not. For me their is obligation time and free time. Early in the morning I have my free time, later it is obligation time. I need to realize my obligations before I can have my free time. Obligations are closely connected to the survival needs. We have to….before we have free time to ……….

Frans van Gunsteren

Ton Voogt

October 2015

© 2018 TonVoogtConsultancy ~ Recent Update 24-08-2017
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