I read an interesting article the other day about a Norway prison, where murderers and rapists, pretty much live on an island without restriction. Of course, there is one restriction, that they do have which is that they are stuck on the island.
Fast forward a few days and one of my friends emailed with the question of if the happiness model I have discussed would apply to third world countries. The basic question was can someone be happy when there is murder, famine, and rape all around them.
I gave the question some thought, and realized that the two issues are connected.
If I asked you a core belief you would die for, I bet Freedom would top your list. Freedom is a welcome right to us Americans. However, I ask you, what do we mean by Freedom? What Freedom would you give your life for. Since as you know, even in America we are not truly free.
I am not free to skip my duties to pay tax. I am not free to harm another person. I am not free to yell “Fire” in a public space, where there is no threat of Fire. So, clearly, we have limited freedom. In fact, that is one of societies primary responsibilities, to restrict freedom in such a way as to benefit the society at large.
There are other freedoms that are great in America. Freedom of religion, freedom of sexual orientation, freedom of free speech.
However, while these are core freedoms, I would think that there is one freedom that trumps all others.
The freedom to leave.
Now in truth, to exercise this freedom, there are two issues at play. When I was visiting Cuba I learned that the cuban government doesn’t restrict anyone from leaving. Nope. The reason that everyone is in Cuba is because (in general) no other country will let them in. So the freedom to leave is predicated on the permission of the Government where you live to let you leave, and another Government to let you enter.
It is this fact upon my happiness model lies. That one has the freedom to go somewhere else. For without it, we are stuck and happiness is not within our control. The key word being control. If we are not in control of our environment, happiness can be elusive.
And it is this reason that the prison that I mentioned at the beginning of the post works. Because, the prisoner knows that they don’t have freedom. That they lack control. And this ultimately, is the worst punishment that we can give someone.