Do We Speak of Freedom for What It Really Is?

A.A. Milne

I was walking down a main street in the city with a few university friends discussing American politics and how much of a comedy it has become.

The conversation led to us sharing what our overall political views were. It went along the lines of whether you were more left-leaning or more conservative.

One person added on to his view by stating that he was a great believer of freedom. By freedom, he meant: we should be able to do whatever the heck we want and when we feel like it. The end.

Even my reliable friend Google said the same thing when I googled the definition. The first definition being the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants. Fair call. The second was the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. I questioned that second one and if you keep reading, I’ll tell you why.

The thing is … I don’t buy any of these definitions completely. The world today has well and truly created a mockery of freedom defining it in a completely erroneous way that we’ve become blind to.

I’m a firm believer in freedom but for what it really is.

Having had sufficient reflection on what freedom is, we have mistaken it for giving into impulses, feelings, emotions and desires. The irony of this concept is that we have mistaken freedom for something quite the opposite – enslavement.

Drug addiction, pornography, consumerism, the pressure for the perfect body image are just a few common things that have become increasingly rampant. The media tells us these are the things to be glorified. They’re meant to create freedom for all.

Is it really freedom if we can’t say no? The worry is that freedom has become mistaken for enslavement and addiction. If this is the case then we aren’t really actually free.

Authentic freedom, on the other hand, should allow us to exercise our power to want to choose freely. When we choose freely, we come to terms with what actually makes us happy. The trends that supposedly promote freedom and that we mindlessly follow, have made us realise that they evidently don’t make us happy or complete in the end.

I will never buy into the concept that ‘freedom’ means to live in the now and to ditch the reality of responsibilities that appear so burdensome. We need to come to terms with the fact that we are free to make any choice we want but we will never be free from the consequences of those choices we make.

SO… the distorted view of freedom is shaping people to act without a sense of responsibility. It’s not so much that responsibility is a burden, but that the false notions of freedom allow us to think this way.

We’ve become trained to think that responsibility is something we don’t need. Note that G.K. Chesterton thinks so otherwise:

“Most modern freedom is at root fear. It is not much that we are too bold to endure rules; it is rather that we are too timid to endure responsibilities.”

3 thoughts on “Do We Speak of Freedom for What It Really Is?

  1. zohal99 says:

    100% agree that we are responsible for the consequences of our choices, conscious or not. I believe authentic freedom is being consciously aware of your choices in the present. An unconscious state of being is more susceptible to routine and habit which inhibit freedom. Though we can never truly be free. We are only as free as we choose to believe we are.

  2. Paula Ahillon says:

    “Though we can never truly be free. We are only as free as we choose to believe we are.”

    You’re right. The reality is that we can never truly be free, because there are things about being human that we can never really change – our need for food, water, shelter and on a more immaterial level – love, friendship and intimacy. These needs that human beings have are inevitable.

    It’s not so much that the inevitable is such a problem though – because perhaps if freedom exists for the sake of happiness and this is what makes us happy, then we cannot aspire to anything more. To reach the ultimate is to reach our end so to speak.

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