Freedom – what is it? On this blog, I talk about financial freedom a lot. To me reaching financial freedom or financial independence is the goal, where I no longer have to trade my time for money. However, that such a first worldview of someone who has a safe and secure life. I live in a developed country with a thriving economy. We have a social safety net. And free medical treatment.
Moreover, we have the political freedom to vote in our leaders. And freedom of speech and the right to protest. Both of which, to be honest, I take for granted. People say you tend to anchor yourself to what you know and treat it as the norm. And I never used to give much thought or truly appreciate this.
But not everyone is as lucky as me. At the Edinburgh Fringe, I was reminded of my privilege when we saw Pussy* Riot.
* (I never thought I’d use that word on my blog, however as it’s used in a positive reclaiming the word I reluctantly approve of its use).
And who are Pussy Riot? They are a Russian protest group – feminist, punk activists. What’s not to like about them? They came to fame with a punk prayer protest in a Russian church, playing punk music and challenging the church’s support of Putin. And this got them arrested.
Some members of the group served a few years in jail for this protest. Nonetheless, their activism and campaigning continued. As did the Russian governments’ attempts to suppress them. More recently they invaded the pitch at the 2018 World Cup final.
And in 2018, they also brought their show Pussy Riot: Riot Days to the Edinburgh Fringe.
More details about them here: Pussy Riot Wiki.
Why they protest
Pussy Riot are an anti-authorisation feminist protest group.
Their concerns in current day Russia centre on the absolute power held by Putin, and the networks that shore up that power. Hence the protest in the Moscow church, as they accuse the church of supporting his authoritative regime.
Feminism is also on their agenda, albeit feminism in modern-day Russia. They don’t agree with the Russian ideal of a women’s place and the overt sexualisation of females.
Ultimately, they are protesting for freedom. For local, more devolved government where individuals can make choices that impact them. Where power is not wielded from afar, but by a local consensus by people with boots on the ground. And where women are treated as equals to men.
Impact on me
Sadly I was not able to see them perform, but we did see them out leafleting in the rain (photo above). And they certainly made an impact on me personally. I am in awe of them; a big fan who admires their bravery and tenacity. (And one day dreams that I could be as strident and brave as them).
Here was a group whose political protests were treated as criminal in their home country. They were subject to threats and intimidation on an ongoing basis in Russia, all for non-violent political activism.
Whereas their actions were celebrated and encouraged in the UK. They were welcomed in Edinburgh and got great support from the public. And they were far from the most controversial act at the fringe.
They had no danger of arrest and were free to say whatever they wanted in Edinburgh. And even criticise the government without repercussions. Which must have felt strange and unusual for them.
Gratitude for my freedom
Moreover, seeing the group members so enthusiastically out and about campaigning made me feel grateful.
The political freedom we have is powerful. I can vote for whoever I want and more importantly campaign for whoever I want. Publically I am able to criticise and challenge politicians. Additionally, the press generally holds politicians to account and scrutinises their actions for us.
I often wonder how different my life would be if I was born in another country. Would I be able to cope with the repression? And on the feminist side, how would I cope in a country where women are treated as second class citizens and have few rights?
I’m not saying the UK is perfect (we are far from it), but I have to acknowledge that we are towards the top of the pack for individual rights and freedoms. I can be whatever I want to be – and only have to deal with the opinions of the conservative side of society, rather than being arrested and imprisoned. And that is better than most people on the planet. I am lucky.
Financial freedom is about more than the money
And onto a phrase, I’m afraid I tend to overuse. Financial independence is about more than the money to me. It’s the freedom to use my time as I want, and volunteer for causes I truly believe in. I’m privileged that I live in a country where that is considered acceptable and normal.
And in 2018, money is what makes the world go round – to achieve your basic needs of food and shelter, a base level of money is required. Financial independence will give me this base level of income and allow me to cut off that link between my time and money.
Then the next segment of my life will begin when I have removed that link. All my basic needs will be met from my investments, and my time will all be my own.
I will be free to travel whenever I want. And I plan to do so, to broaden my horizons. I want to slow travel and meet people in different communities. Then see how people in other parts of the world really live, not the sanitised version we see on the TV.
Freedom will also allow me to be more political, and use my skills to help charities and non-profits that align with my viewpoint. And ultimately it’s not just about me, it’s about making the world a better place for all that live here.
Over to you
- What are your thoughts?
- Are you also a fan of Pussy Riot?
- Freedom – what does it mean to you?
- Do you feel you have freedom?