For many people, the “shoulds” of life exist because of moralistic or religious factors.
The goal is to be good.
For me, the shoulds exist because of my desire to be a better person. The goal is to grow. That’s an essential part of who I am. I don’t want to shut it down or cut it out.
But I hate being bullied by shoulds.
Should doesn’t help me; it just weighs me down.
Should doesn’t motivate me the way I want to be motivated.
Should is unnecessary.
If I believe in freedom as the highest value of humanity, and I do, then I need to get rid of should.
(Love can’t be the highest value. Without freedom, you cannot have love, truly, so freedom must come first.)
Should is a declaration of non-freedom.
Should is the tool of obligation.
Obligation (along with expectations, coercion, manipulation, and other forms of psychological terrorism) is in direct opposition to the idea that all people are free.
Should cannot coexist with respect.
I guess we could argue that a sense of obligation, or duty, has some value. But does it? I mean, sure, it can keep us in line. Keep us on our best behavior. Keep us trapped in endless loops of doing things out of duty.
But the best use of a sense of duty is to control each other.
We learn how to manipulate others by appealing to this sense of duty, because we ourselves have been manipulated in the same way. It’s effective social training, but look, let’s be real: is the kind of society we’ve created really a primo example of what we want a society to be?
Maybe we need to raise our collective standards.
To do that, we have to start thinking for ourselves. Thinking of new options. Carving a new path.
And to think freely, see clearly, act decisively, we must throw away obligation. It burdens us, weighs us down, sucks us dry. It is a poor substitute for love. It does not seek to connect but to control.
And where control must exist, freedom is limited.
Where freedom is limited, love is, as well. And when love is limited, so are we. We are love. If we want to be better selves, and build a better world, we look at how we can free ourselves into more love.
Obligation is fear-based, shame-provoking, guilt-inducing, a control mechanism for people who seek safety in the prison of the familiar.
It is a trap.
To be free, walk out.