Monday, July 09, 2012

Choice and freedom



Suppose that I am a poor man; or rather, I am not really poor, but a car is beyond my means. When I want to go somewhere, I always use a bus, the train or another means of public transport, or I take my bike or I simply walk. I have no problems with it, for walking or riding a bike is good for my health and taking a bus or train is better for the environment than using a private car. Now I have to go to a town nearby, because I want to go to a lecture in a conference room near the central railway station. I take the train, which brings me within fifteen minutes to this station, and from there it is just five minutes walking to the conference room. All in all it takes me less than half an hour to attend the lecture.
My next-door neighbour is a rich man. He is quite an arrogant person and I don’t like him much and he doesn’t like me, so we never exchange more than a greeting. My neighbour has an expensive car and never takes a bus, the train or another means of public transport for going somewhere. The bike in his garage has become rusty, because it is already ages ago that he used it. Moreover, he is the type that likes it to drive around in his car so that everybody can see that he can afford such an expensive one. When I have taken my seat in the lecture room, to my surprise I see my neighbour a few rows in front of me. I had not thought that he is also interested in a lecture on the free will. Anyway, I am happy that there was no chance to meet him in the train, because I am sure that he has taken his car. Undoubtedly he has an aversion against taking the train. I guess that it has cost him an hour or so to come here: About half an hour to drive to the centre of the town. Once there he needed, I think, another fifteen minutes to look for a parking place, and then he had to walk, say, ten minutes to the conference centre.
When the lecture has finished my neighbour sees me, nods as a greeting and walks outside, while I take the door to the passage that connects the conference room with the railway station.
Which man is freer: My neighbour or I?

2 comments:

Fasulye said...

What a nice story! Reading this it makes me feel free in my poverty.

Kind regards,

Fasulye

HbdW said...

Thanks. Freedom is in the eye of the beholder.