To Be Free

It’s possible and probable that one can live in a free country and not be free. We might interpret that statement in different ways. Conventionally, one could be an inmate in a jail, penitentiary, or sanitarium. One could find oneself entangled in personal debt and obliged to work it off. A person might find oneself addicted to drugs or alcohol. One could be enmeshed in a romantic relationship that has become dysfunctional. There are many other scenarios that can abridge our freedom.

“What good to me is the festive garment of freedom when I am in a slave’s smock at home?”–Johann Georg Hamann

The 18th century philosopher, Hamann was on to something important. We might interpret his statement in the contexts of domestic obligation or personal beliefs and actions we hold and do. The most common way to take away our freedom is to imprison ourselves in limiting beliefs about ourselves. Humans are stubborn creatures. We don’t easily change our opinions about anything and anyone–especially ourselves.

Freedom in society and within oneself is an agreement. Anybody who desires freedom and peace must commit to a healthy level of mindfulness and work. To be truly free, one must grant the right to freedom to others and oneself. If we do not allow others their freedom, this state of being will come back and ultimately restrict our own freedom. This has been demonstrated time and again throughout the history of humankind. Practicing discipline, thoughtfulness, and acceptance will go a long way towards promoting freedom for everyone–including ourselves.

That said, freedom is a word people love to say and to promote. Nations like the United States further the cause and defend “freedom” by the use of a military system. Such an establishment is primarily tasked with protecting the country from adversaries human and natural. Furthermore, police forces are assigned the duty to protect us from crime. Both of these require a certain abridgement of freedoms.

Military personnel do not enjoy the same levels of freedom and liberty that civilians have. The employment of police ideally results in the physical imprisonment of people who abridge the freedom of others. The degrees of freedoms that are forfeited are points of philosophical debate. In any organized society and civilization, total freedom and liberty are impossible. We cannot act in ways that harm others. To do so usually results in the abridgement or surrender of our own freedom. This idea is summarized in the popular idiom: “Freedom is not free”.

In organized, free societies, people’s rights are interconnected and enumerated in some sort of code or constitution. An example are the Amendments known as “The Bill of Rights” in the U.S. Constitution. For instance, we are assured of the freedom of expression, assembly, association, religion, and thought. When any of these are threatened, free society is endangered. It behooves us to be aware of our civic responsibilities and rights and to protect them.

On the personal level, we are only as free as we allow ourselves to be. Mature, responsible adults have the inherent freedoms to be happy and to enjoy freedom of choice. It is up to us to determine where we want to live, how to earn a paycheck, what to do in our spare time, if we want to marry another adult, and to whom. It all boils down to how we engage our skills and whether we choose to do so.

These thoughts come to mind during World Freedom Day. This is a prime time to contemplate, promote, and protect everyone’s freedom.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes, civil rights activist, Patrisse Cullors. “Wherever there are communities fighting for freedom and liberation, there are serious tensions.”

About swabby429

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

2 Responses to To Be Free

  1. It does seem to be an overly used and misunderstood word.

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