The human need for order tends to place us in one form of bondage or another. American democracy, hailed by so many for so long as the model of freedom, the standard, has only enslaved us in different ways.
Don't deny you're a slave. A 9-to-5'er such as myself works most of the daylight hours away indoors for somebody else, with only nights and two weekend days to oneself. If you're in retail, it's worse; your schedule, though it may give you some free hours during the week, is at the whim of someone else.
Driving, once a joy and a luxury, is now another stranglehold. Owning, maintaining, and insuring an automobile is expensive, especially in New Jersey. But try getting by without one if you live in a middlin'-sized city or town. You've got to style your life around the bus schedules, if you're lucky enough to have access to a bus route. Just the way the industries want it, I'm sure...
Slaves to fashion? So many find it necessary to fork over their hard-earned dollars to Tommy, or Donna, or Salvatore, because their attire is trendy. Slaves to chemicals? We see the bonded blacklungs everyday, paying through the nose for the privilege of shortening their own lives; we see but don't always recognize the other drug dependencies. Slaves to income? Toil and sweat your life away, often doing something you don't truly love doing, just to keep food on the table and a roof over your head. Slaves to materialism? 'I need that sports utility vehicle for my daily commute through the urban sprawl. I need the 42-inch Surround Sound TV!' Slaves to religion? A frightening number of people will follow one man, one belief, one ideology, unquestioningly, to the bitter end. And this doesn't apply only literally to religions; it's the 'my people, right or wrong' attitude.
I don't claim to be free myself. In 1990, I fashioned a ring for myself (above, and on my finger in the fist picture at the top) out of some chain from the Toys "R" Us warehouse. Over the years, I've jokingly referred to it as 'industrial jewelry,' but it was really a statement, and symbolic of the slavery to society, and I wore it as a reminder, 'til I lost it late in 2002. In May 2003, my friend Yesika had a new one made for me in silver, which is very cool, but somehow ironic.
Maybe I haven't permitted myself to be enslaved in as many ways as others, but I am still a slave. I'm aware of it, though, and maybe that gives me a little bit of an edge. I'm also growing increasingly weary of it. Many times I've found myself thinking of leaving this all behind. I have seen myself and people close to me get hurt and hurt others as a result of behavior conditioned by slavery. We can't let our lives be controlled by the fashion police, or the morality of an old man in a funny hat, or 'what everybody will say.' That's not an excuse for anarchy; most of the Ten Commandments make a commonsense basis for acceptable human behavior. Don't do it because everyone else is doing it, or because that's the way it's always been done, do it because you want to do it and you think it's right. And if you choose to continue wearing the chains, at least admit that they're there.