Contemplating Freedom Again

Wise sages throughout time have realized that most people say they want freedom, but when the people finally acquire the keys to freedom, they reject complete freedom.

Much of the problem with popular notions of freedom is that it is that we mistake license for freedom. A useful way to view the two concepts is to remember that license is a subset of freedom. License is the belief that we can do whatever we want, whenever we want to do it. Taken as a whole, freedom encompasses much more than license. To possess freedom requires that we take full accountability and responsibility for our speech and actions. License assumes no accountability while freedom implies the understanding that there are consequences for everything we say and do. The truth of the matter is that many people are frightened of accountability and responsibility.

“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”–Søren Kierkegaard

We might interpret Kierkegaard’s statement as another way of people wishing to enjoy the license to speak but without the pain of accountability. Once achieved, freedom of speech is a vital component of any democratic republic or social group. This is a basic fact. On the other hand, freedom of thought is a trickier proposition. We are encouraged to think about certain concepts and topics in conventional ways. If we have unconventional thoughts, we are discouraged from communicating them to others even though we’re technically allowed to do so. This is a way of implying that freedom has limits.
When one voices her unconventional thoughts there will be consequences for such communication whether or not she realizes this is so. There is a sharp learning curve if she had never before understood that freedom of speech has consequences. This is further complicated if she advocates in favor of limiting the freedom of others. Although she may have the philosophical and religious freedoms to advocate the abridgment of freedoms of others, her statements will trigger the ire of those who do not want their freedoms impinged. As a result, society encounters hot-button controversies such as “religious freedom”.

How do we address the ideal of ensuring freedom and liberty for all with the opinion that some people’s freedoms should be curtailed? The controversy itself invites the encroachment of influential, powerful people who accelerate the curtailment of everyone’s freedoms in general. The conundrum of guaranteeing the freedom to advocate the abridgment of freedom versus assuring everyone of their freedom has not yet been resolved. Satisfying one party will, so far, only cause the other party to be unsatisfied. Resolution may finally occur when all parties realize that freedom applies to all people, even those people we do not like.

“I’ve sold my soul for freedom. It’s lonely but it’s sweet.”–Melissa Etheridge

Officially expressed freedom is only one aspect of total freedom. To be a fully realized person to exercise full freedom involves consciousness, a good conscience, a creative mind, and independent will. Acquiring and keeping freedom requires the power to change, the power to choose, and the power to respond. Without these powers, promises of freedom are hollow. As is the case with freedom, the use of these powers comes with consequences.

Whatever it is that you feel in your heart, requires a free and open mind. To go after your dreams and heart’s desire involves the freedom of expression. That is the manifestation of freedom.

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Bob Dylan. “A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Controversy, philosophy, Politics, religion and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Contemplating Freedom Again

  1. says:

    You’re quoting Bob Dylan. Yes, for my generation of late hippies the word had and still has a central meaning. Above all, it was freedom in the world of the outdated views of our parents’ generation. Others, like Chris Christoferson, have defined it differently: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing have to loose”.

    • swabby429 says:

      Indeed, desperation can motivate the desire for freedom from oppression. Most of the freedom and liberation movements came about after people have had enough hardship. This is true on the individual scale, too.

  2. says:

    Your article is very good and important hits the nail on the head. Kirkegaard is unfortunately not known to as many as he deserves it.

    Naturally, the topic has a particularly important meaning for me when I paint abstractly. For me a sentence in Chinese art theory offers me a very good aspect: “Laws make you free”. What sounds paradoxical at first is no longer when we look at our training in, for example, piano playing. Scales up and down, etudes and only when we have mastered these is the piano concerto on the program at some point.

    Freedom of speech can only make sense if we have a sound basis on which to grow our thoughts. Otherwise it’s babbling or irrelevance or worse.

  3. mandala56 says:

    Love the Kierkegaard quote. Also reminds me of Jack frequently pointing out, when he saw someone acting or sounding stupid in a blatant way, that the person was saying “I’m stupid and I don’t know it, but I want you to know it.”

  4. Yernasia Quorelios says:

    💜 This a Dangerous Use of Semantics with The Best of Intention EveryOne; it’s how Dictators Rise and Fall


  5. bloom|time says:

    this is a great assessment of the current “cancel culture debate” taking place on mass media shows… it’s not “canceling” someone if it’s simply holding them accountable for their views.

  6. swabby429 says:

    The cancel culture brouhaha is so tiresome. Ethical, responsible speech and actions should be the norm.

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