Freedom to Restructure in Canada
Freedom, in its most basic sense for most, is the ability to take an action or to forebear from taking an action, according to the achievement of your desired future state. Of course, like all beautiful things, its truest manifestation and expression is found in the beholder.
To some, freedom is the right to act, speak and think according to your own caprice without constraint. This cannot go on unabated, however, and we typically agree with this definition until that expressed freedom bumps up against another’s expressed freedom and they demand your silence and compliance with their worldview.
This is when one might come to add to the definition of freedom, as the absence of necessity or coercion. That freedom is expressed through being liberated from the bondage and oppressive power of another (including a despotic government or social group).
So far, so good…
Another, however, wants to add an addendum to the definition of freedom. They want freedom from the social construct that is imbedded within the invisible fabric of the culture. Yet another wants to add that freedom is safety from disagreeable and hurtful language. The bumping up against another’s freedom gets even more difficult and painful…
It’s not an easy concept, Freedom. But it is one that needs to be conceptualized in all its manifestations or else we will find ourselves hopelessly mired in bondage to dogma and tradition. Take the concept of freedom of speech.
My perspective of freedom of speech was forever altered when I heard Noam Chomsky’s defense of it in the National Film Board of Canada documentary film, Manufacturing Consent, way back in the ‘90s. In the film Chomsky remarks, “Goebbles was in favour of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favour of free speech, then you’re in favour of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favour of free speech.”
This idea moved me. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to hear it, let alone believe it. I felt safe and comfortable in my beliefs and worldview, and what ol’ Chomsky had to say made me feel bad about myself and unsafe in my worldview. What’s more, I felt that what he was requiring of me was simply not possible. I discovered, however, that it is possible, and it is important to adopt.
Chomsky’s edict may seem impossible at first blush, but it really isn’t. The truth is that we cannot ever reach a place of freedom and safety in our lives unless we are prepared to explore those places in which we do not feel safe. And honestly, what could be safer than the use of language to explore and express our perspective and ideas?
Through the sharing of ideas through language we can learn from someone so much about our own selves which we would never learn through bias introspection. Their unknown motivations and fears will become known to us, and our own unknown motivations and fears will become known to them as well.
From this exploration of the unknown comes the discovery of the known. And from a place of knowing comes a place of empathy and understanding and, eventually an accord, peace and freedom.
When faced with the unknown it may be our inclination to turn away and disavow it, but this does not negate the unknown, it simply ignores it; and to deny the unknown is not to be free from it. To deny the unknown is to be afraid; and to be afraid is to be oppressed and coerced.
Freedom does not trade in fear and coercion, freedom trades in courage and hope.
The COVID-19 virus has struck fear in the hearts and minds of Canadians. We will eventually overcome this virus, but we will nonetheless be left with the emotional trauma from the experience, as well as the inevitable financial trauma due to the economic fallout. The damage to the economy will be felt and lived through the personal experience of individual citizens, and this will result in an inevitable and unprecedented increase in personal insolvency within the next 12 months.
Personal insolvency is a frightening thought, and it is a sobering thought for a society buoyed on consumer credit
We have the freedom to turn away from this new and emerging financial pandemic and ignore it, but just like COVID-19, this will only make matters worse. Like COVID-19, we need to inform ourselves by listening to the experts; we need to reserve judgement of those impacted; we need to be prepared to have thoughtful dialogue with those having differing opinions, and we need to make positive and assertive decisions to ensure our financial wellness.
You might say that the financial ruin of others doesn’t impact you directly, and that there is nothing that you can do about it. You’d be right too. There is nothing that you can do about another’s insolvency, but there is something that you can do. You can recognize the insolvent person’s guilt and trauma over their situation, and you can help to normalize the conversation of debt.
One that is indebted to such an extent that they cannot afford to make minimum payments and cover living expenses is not free, they are in bondage.
One that can just make minimum payments, and not pay down the principle owed on debts is not free, they are enslaved.
One that is caught in the mire of overwhelming interest loan payments on unmanageable debt is bondage and oppression. I am not being hyperbolic, here; people commit suicide to escape their debts and obtain freedom.
November 11th is Remembrance Day. It is a day that we celebrate our freedoms and our way of life. It is a day we honour those that serve and have served to protect our society. One of the crown jewels in Canadian society is our insolvency laws. These laws allow the honest but unfortunate citizen that is overburdened by their debt to restructure through a consumer proposal.
All citizens have the right to renegotiate their personal debts under insolvency laws, and the cost to do so is not to be paid by the citizen, it is to be paid for by their insolvent estate.
Citizens are not required to forever be bound in wage slavery and bondage to their creditors when they cannot reduce the principal on their loans. Citizens have the freedom to restructure.
I opened this article with the declaration that freedom is the power to take an action or to forebear from taking an action in connection with the achievement of one’s desired future state. I close the article with the same declaration. COVID-19 has altered the world and all our futures in it. We need to come to understand that we are not so much defined by the promises of our past, but more by our commitment to our collective futures. Some people cannot pay their debts, and that’s okay, they are still valuable members of our society and their community, and they have the freedom to restructure their debts.