@ipobota presented me with a challenge. One in which a bunch of creators were to talk about the differences they see between freedom and comfort. This catches me at a rather interesting time in my own growth on these subjects, as I have been trying to deconstruct my own general comfort within a life that was mostly built for me.
For example, it is comfortable for me to sit within my soon to be 40 year old self, basking in the glow of my unearned privilege. It is all too easy to sit on my infinitely customizable LoveSac couch in the house we bought during The Great Recession when not even banks knew how many bedrooms and bathrooms were in their foreclosed properties. For the record, they didn’t know that our house had a finished basement, so we basically got that for free. And there is still more comfort I feel in the knowledge that the only reason I could afford a down payment on such a house was with my parent’s help. It is the same reason I do not worry about losing our house should I no longer be able to afford the mortgage after losing a job. I know that they would be there to help with that too, should I ever need it.
It is gross and unfair and all too comfortable.
And yet, it isn’t freedom that I feel. The system that was built to constantly raise housing prices until they crashed from the overwhelming greed is required to help me buy this house. It was also made possible by the Home Owners Association that guaranteed the previous owners who didn’t take care of the lawn and didn’t pull permits for their home improvements were forced out rather than supported. And the accumulation of generational wealth, compound interest, and speculative investment that is not built upon creating value but is rather letting money make money is an essential part of how my house was built in this Denver suburb in the first place. I will never be free of that reality, as I am bound to it, even beholden to it. And that should make me very uncomfortable.
It should make me uncomfortable to see the wealth disparity for folks who do not share my advantages. It should make uncomfortable to see the same unequal advantages being imparted upon my own children, within public schools that receive adequate funding from property taxes and where the teachers continue to want to work. It should make me uncomfortable to know that my house sits on Sioux, Ute, and Cheyanne tribal land.
And sitting in that discomfort, while sitting on my couch, should call me to action. It should spur me to fight for liberation, for the freedom of others to feel the kinds of comfort that I have known. It should drive me to vote for affordable housing initiatives within my community and to dismantle the HOAs that thrive on racism and exclusionary policies. It should clarify the impending needs of the unhoused in my city and help me to make room for them in my life and work.
There is the difference between comfort and freedom. Comfort is something you can be given or denied. It is something that you neither deserve nor are guaranteed. Comfort requires inequity, as it is only available to those who cannot see why they have. For those who are willfully blind to the discomfort of others and the inherent injustice of the disparity between what they have and what others do not.
Freedom is something else entirely. Freedom cannot be given. Freedom is earned and exercised. It is the work of liberation and of justice. Freedom is for those who see that comfort should be uncomfortable to live with. And I, for one, am not comfortable with the lack of freedom that others feel. No one is free until we are all uncomfortable with the way things are.