There are people in this world who do not decide what they eat, who do not decide when they wake up, who do not decide where they go to school, and who do not decide where they live. To me, an American teen, it feels that life without the freedom of will is hardly life at all. But there are some people who have never had the freedom of the simplest things, yet make it through an entire lifetime—people who actually come to NEED restriction to do so. I myself can hardly remain sane in detention for ten days.
The ten days I'm speaking of are ten days of my life I gave up my possessions, my home, my loved ones, and the freedom to decide my own results. For ten days I was in junior psych unit 1JPEast, my decisions in the hands of unfamiliar doctors. There are many people from all walks of life who could relate to the frustration of confinement, but during my trials I found myself thinking of one group in particular—the elderly in retirement homes.
This sympathy for the elderly is not because of the standard of living; life in the unit was not, in all reality, that bad. The food was good; the building, warm (probably in fact better than in a retirement home). Rather it is because I have felt the loneliness of a clinic night and the hostility of an un-owned bed. I am familiar with what it is to be belittled simply because of the words on the door of my "home". I have been a room number rather than a name in a place full of nurses who don't care where I've been, and are there for one purpose: to make sure I'm not doing anything stupid. I feel sympathy for the elderly, locked in a place full of strangers doing only what the facility allows them, leaving only when the facility lets them, or in a long, black car. I imagine them living much like I did, sitting around playing cards, unable to go outside because the rest of the world is afraid of them, or simply because the next generation does not know what else to do with them. I felt much the same, only backwards because instead of younger men and women deciding my fate, they were older. Even so, they were progeny of a different time in the world, trying to understand what they could not. I met young girls like myself in the Unit; I met girls who were only admitted because their parents didn't want to deal with them. This is much like the elderly who are cast into homes because their family does not want to care for them. The captive have much in common.
Without freedom, places like the Unit would be bursting at the seams; with total freedom places like the Unit would not even exist. There is nothing appealing about a life controlled by other human beings. There is nothing to be gained locked in a cage. I feel for criminals, for the elderly, for the truly insane—for each human on earth that dwells behind locked doors at the discretion of another mere man. It's true; perhaps a truly free world is not a safe one. But should a man who has never been locked up be the holder of the keys? One does understand the helplessness of a locked door until they are on the side that does not open. This experience is why I do not believe in the death penalty. No man should have that power over another. Ever. The authority cannot understand until they are the ones who are told they can not—not MAY not—go home. Those with freedom do not know a thing.
Differently, I never would have consented to this week without will. Differently, I would have wreaked more havoc; I would have tested my limits. I never cheated, not really. Of course I had my little declarations of rebellion—my secret messages; my secret chapstick. But in all reality I couldn't cheat, because it wasn't my decision to make. That's the thing about liberty. Once you put yours into someone else's hands, it's irreversible. As Americans our free will is determined physically, by age. In captivity, in detainment, in custody, our free will is determined by behavior, and in the hands of someone who does not understand. "There is no such thing as a little freedom. Either you are all free, or you are not free." –Walter Cronkite