What is ‘Freedom’?
There are many different kinds and understanding of ‘freedom’ – but what is it fundamentally?
Freedom relates to most of what we, as humans, do, and how we live our lives but when it comes down to it in this ‘unfree world’, you and I are quite constrained in the ‘degrees of freedom’ we enjoy.
Most of our cherished freedoms are restrained or restricted.
Freedom of Speech – well, not really – we are ‘not allowed’ always to say what we feel – to anyone – because of ‘political correctness’ and so forth or for ‘fear of giving offence’.
There are certain subjects we can only discuss with like minded people and some not at all.
This seems in recent years to have created a new – ‘freedom to be offended’ by what others say or do, along with what seems to have become a ‘right’ to be offended – by pretty much anything in the case of some people!
Freedom of Movement – heavily restricted at the moment. You and I are just not free to go wherever we wish whenever we wish for reasons which not all of us are convinced of.
Freedom of Association – again this is currently constrained by for the same reasons as our ability to travel, even if that’s to see our friends at a pub or restaurant.
The next is ‘Freedom of Self-Determination’ or in other words the freedom to choose who we wish to be, what we wish to do and how we wish to do it, and again there are many constraints and boundaries around this. Many things prevent us from doing, being or having what we would really like.
Then there’s ‘Freedom of Thought’ and you may think this is unconstrained – you and I can think what we like, but even this isn’t quite the case.
Viktor Frankl in ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ explained how in the concentration camps everything was taken from the inmates other than their power to think for themselves, other than their own human spirit. But that was not the case for everyone.
Some people were so ‘broken’ by the removal of all other freedoms, they even gave that up. Now you could say it was their choice, but not really, and many people have given up ‘thinking for themselves’ in the world today.
The human mind is highly suggestible. All day every day we are bombarded with messages telling us how we should be thinking and what we should be thinking about.
It comes in so-called ‘news’ and political comment. It comes through all forms of advertising much of which is increasingly manipulative, and it comes in ‘popular drama’ otherwise known as ‘soap operas’ which portray a specific morality, not necessarily through the plot but through how the characters relate to one another and how they live.
Our freedom, yours and mine, is constantly being encroached upon, moulded and manipulated into having us conform to what others wish the world to be like.
More to the point they are attempting, by ‘influencing’ others, to make the world conform to their idea of freedom – “if only everyone else would conform to my ideas then I’d be free”
The thing is though, it isn’t like that.
You and I cannot achieve any form of freedom if it depends on what others do or think.
True freedom can only be achieved through our own thoughts and actions.
But how is that possible in this ‘unfree’ world?
The answer is in whatever it is that makes us, individually and personally, feel ‘free’ and first we must understand this is about ‘be-ing’ and not doing or having.
We can measure our own freedom by the intensity of joy, happiness or peace we feel in ourselves and of course this may derive from the doing and having, but we aren’t ‘free’ just because we do or have something – it’s the ‘result’ that brings the joy.
We cannot achieve ‘total’ freedom staying within the constrained third dimensional environment that supports our lives. Total freedom comes from transcending it which means although we are still in a cage, our Soul and spirit are free.
Freedom is about all the things and feelings which make us happy and the more we guard against manipulation from outside the more of those there will be.
And the reverse is true, we cannot become in any way free if it depends on what others do, so freedom for ourselves only comes when we stop attempting to impose our idea of freedom on others.
Freedom is about what you and I feel in ourselves.
I’ve not spoken about ‘time and money freedom’, more on those next time.