Last night I saw part of an interview on 'Lateline' where Leigh Sales interviewed Jonathan Franzen, critically acclaimed author, Pulitzer nominee, and writer for "The New Yorker". His most recent book is "Freedom".
Discussing the concept of freedom, Franzen suggested that, perhaps counter-intuitively, we have less freedom in these times than a few generations ago when societies functioned more on accepted rules and traditions.
I'm paraphrasing here, but he seemed to propose that life conveyed a greater sense of freedom to us as individuals when we had fewer decisions to make, based on our acceptance of given standards of behaviour. If we accept there are given standards, it relieves us of the need to make some decisions, and therefore reduces stress.
Thinking about this, it makes some sense to me. We have a lot of erratic behaviour and confusion in many of today's societies, perhaps because many of us don't have the wisdom and maturity to make wise decisions.
We have an epidemic of stress and depression. I've yet to see a reasonable explanation for why these problems are growing so exponentially.
I recall as a teenager simply accepting that my parents knew more than I did and therefore had the right to set the rules by which I should behave.
i.e. if I was told to be home by 11 pm then I was.
In contrast, parents I see at present are lucky if they can 'negotiate' what times a kid will come home, or what sort of contribution the kid will make to the household in return for parental support.
Then just on how we can spend our money: there are so many consumables out there, credit is so easy to obtain, and a savings culture seemingly not valued.
I don't know whether Franzen is right, but his suggestion made some sense to me. It might be interesting to discuss this with the different generations we have here on ASF.