“He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.31)
क्षिप्रं भवति धर्मात्मा
न मे भक्तः प्रणश्यति
kṣipraṁ bhavati dharmātmā
na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati
Friend1: I get a kick out of anyone talking about freedom in certain parts of the world.
Friend2: In what context?
Friend1: That we live in a free country. That the person at the top of the government is the “leader of the free world.”
Friend2: I think they are trying to contrast with royal monarchies; places that don’t have elections.
Friend1: Oh, I know exactly what they mean. Except the idea of freedom existing in these democracies is laughable.
Friend2: What makes you say that?
Friend1: The government can destroy you in a second.
Friend2: How so?
Friend1: False indictment. Your company could have thousands of employees and been in business for over a hundred years. Then one day, a rogue prosecutor from the government charges you with nonsense. The lower courts convict. The highest court eventually overturns the bogus conviction, but the damage is already done. The company is out of business.
Friend2: That does happen. There are so many bad actors in government. These lower courts are often a rubberstamp. They agree with whatever the government prosecutor brings before them.
Friend1: Then this idea of elections and the people having a say, that is not true at all. They steal elections in broad daylight. A few locations intentionally hold back the vote counting. They are really calculating how many fake ballots they need to overcome the deficit. Then at the last minute they do a dump of votes, all for one candidate.
Friend2: And then no one is allowed to mention the crime. You will lose your business if you go public with what you witnessed before your very eyes.
Friend1: Reminds me of the incident in that communist country years ago. The students protested the government. They were massacred by the military. Now I think no one is allowed to even reference that incident; otherwise you will meet a similar fate.
Friend2: Shows you that the news is totally fake. They report what they want you to hear, not what is really going on.
Friend1: So combine these issues together and you realize that no one is actually free.
Friend2: Oh, of course. From shastra we learn the three sources of misery: from the heavens, from other living beings, and from within. No one is immune to these miseries.
Friend1: If we really had freedom, we could do whatever we wanted. In reality, everyone is under control.
Friend2: Of the laws of nature. We are not even guaranteed an outcome to the most basic action. Nature must first comply:
गुणैः कर्माणि सर्वशः
कर्ताहम् इति मन्यते
guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ
kartāham iti manyate
“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)
Friend1: If everyone is in such a precarious condition, what hope is there for a better life?
Friend1: Even with the restrictions on freedom?
Friend2: The demons will certainly try to interfere. Shrila Haridasa Thakura was whipped a number of times in public. He never changed his ways. Prahlada Maharaja suffered unspeakable torture. He remained steady. The Pandavas were the victims of every kind of unlawful activity. They were victorious in the end.
Friend1: You are saying that God was supporting them.
Friend2: Supporting their devotion. Even if you succumb to the forces of nature, which every person eventually must, the devotion will remain. The saints focus on that area; they are not interested in the temporary. They renounce bad association and always chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Proud of living free,
But miseries just see.
How election to take,
With fake ballots to make.
Or business ruined in a day,
With false accusations to say.
But devotion always to maintain,
Since Krishna Himself to sustain.