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Beyond Mortality: Bitcoin's (Modest) Role in the Pursuit of True Freedom

I’m writing this opinion piece at an altitude of 6400 meters, looking out over a sunlit bed of clouds while on a flight back to Hong Kong. 

Opening like this might make you think this will be just an article on how Bitcoin can bring financial freedom, or perhaps a reflection on borderlessness and digital nomadism. But this is not the case. Instead, this is a piece on mortality, true freedom and the significance of the age we live in. Oh, and it’s also about Bitcoin.

Envisioning Freedom

The ability to go online, look for information, write, travel, dine, or even just to have enough time to explore hobbies, surely, these are all manifestations of freedom which should not be dismissed. From the outset, we can acknowledge that freedom exists on a spectrum. However, instead of repeating liberalist definitions or getting dragged into Marxist ideology, I would like to come straight to the point and talk about death.

When trying to understand true freedom, I have found it helpful to think about death. Not in any morbid sense. Inspired by the Baha'i writings, I believe that upon death we will become free from time and space. Being of pure spiritual stock, and thus free from the body, we can no longer get hungry, tired, or sick. And perhaps most importantly, I believe that upon death, the veils of ignorance are lifted and we see only truth.

Fantasy or not, it would certainly be a fantasy to believe that there is even one single individual alive today who is truly free.

When I talk about freedom, I don’t mean having the freedom to drink, smoke, and do ‘whatever you like’. Being at liberty to do anything is not freedom. Being wealthy but in need of admiration, praise, or whatever else satisfies the ego is not freedom. It goes deeper.

It is my belief that upon death, as we awaken to a higher reality, we will see that all of existence is interconnected and that the human race is in fact like a single organism. As long as we cannot see ourselves and our fellow human beings for what we truly are, we are not free.

When we reduce each other and ourselves to mere skin pigmentation, we are trapped. When we build our core identity or see others purely on the basis of sexual preferences, we are trapped. Billionaires who are so rich and powerful that they think they can afford to do whatever they wish on private islands, are not free. They are misinformed and enslaved by their own darkness.

We Were Never Free To Begin With

Not only do I believe that there is not a single individual alive today who is truly free, I would go so far as to argue that humanity has never been free and that in fact, apart from rare historical figures, the emergence of the fully evolved 'free human being' has not yet occurred.

In this context, there is no need to romanticize pre-modern societies. Cavemen killed fellow cavemen. As far back as recorded history goes, especially in relation to rivals, human history is tainted with murder, rape, and tyranny. We’ve come a long way as humanity, but for as long as we cannot recognize the oneness of humanity and act as such, we will remain gridlocked in violence and slavery. Whoever harbors hatred in their hearts is not free. Similarly, a heart consumed by love for the very things that can cause our own destruction is not free either. 

Children—adorable as they can be—are not free. Yes, we associate childhood with playfulness, imagination, and curiosity, but children start from a position of incompetence and plain natural instinct. When they are hungry, they cry. When they can’t get what they want, they throw a tantrum. It is only through education and the edification of character that children come to learn about generosity, forgiveness, self-discipline, and all such virtues that bring out the nobility of man. Animals, while symbols of freedom, are in fact prisoners of nature, unable to transcend their instincts and exercise even an inkling of free will. No offense to animals.

Plato argued differently. In his mind, in order for individuals (or citizens) to be truly free, the enslavement and dehumanization of some people were necessary. By relegating slaves, women, and children to the private sphere to carry out menial tasks, those who were deemed free could focus on meaning and a higher purpose. The private sphere was regarded as the home of the body and emotions, while the public housed the rational mind. The repetitiveness of housework and slavery was there so as to enable the creativity and innovations of the free. 

Plato was a very smart guy, maybe even enlightened, but his framework for human flourishing can really only be true if we warp reality and refuse to recognize the fundamental oneness of the human race and the inherent nobility of all.


Bitcoin: A Glimmering of Freedom

So where does Bitcoin fit into all of this?

“Bitcoin fixes this”, so we often say. Of course, what it really means when we ascribe such power to Bitcoin is that we recognize that ‘money’ is intimately tied to our time preferences, our capacity to value things around us accurately, and our agency in the world. And as such, when we fix the money, we can positively impact our own lives and the lives of others. I agree with this; however, by expanding our notion of true freedom and what it means to be a human being, the significance of Bitcoin also changes.

Let’s follow our own Nakamotonean recipe. Let’s adjust our time-preference and think in centuries and millennia. Let’s also agree that since imperfect money renders an imperfect map of the world, and we say that Bitcoin is the best money to ever exist, then we’ve probably never had a perfect picture of the world to begin with. And lastly, of course, we can agree that being able to transfer value around the world without permission adds to freedom, just as taking money into self-custody and striving for self-sovereignty are supportive of the same.

But if true freedom lies in our ability as individuals and societies to transcend our carnal inclinations, destroy our warped sense of entitlement, break free from prejudice and hatred, rid the world of ignorance and intentional cruelty, and overcome injustice, then we have a very, very long time to go, centuries perhaps, and at most, Bitcoin is a part of that.

As we adopt Bitcoin and the foundational principles it represents, we are compelled to deeply reassess our ideals of freedom and the current state of liberty worldwide. Bitcoin is not just a tool for economic change; it is a beacon, urging us to consider a future where financial systems embody the oneness of humanity. 

However, achieving a world where Bitcoin underpins our economic dealings is just one part of the puzzle. For us to reach a truly world-embracing vision, we must also evolve personally and collectively, enhance our character and expand our understanding of freedom beyond academic rhetoric. This dual pursuit will not only reshape our financial systems but will also demand and foster a profound, collective shift in consciousness. 

Embracing this broader concept of freedom—rooted in true human connection and spiritual enlightenment—is essential as we strive to build a more just and unified world where we can be truly free. And I, for one, am still far from it.


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