There are many things that are said to make us human, and that we consider as fundamental rights, but one of the loftiest and most important by all accounts is freedom. For many of us it’s our freedom that gives our life meaning and that makes it worthwhile. As such it tends to feature heavily in any speech, in any political manifesto and any epic yarn. But what does it really mean? And how can something so important be such an abstract subject that’s so difficult to pin down? Let’s examine what freedom is in a bit more detail.
Freedom as Choice
If you boil it down to its basics, freedom could essentially be described as choice. And the more choices you have the more freedom you have as a result. In this respect it’s possible to have ‘levels’ of freedom rather than just being free or ‘not free’ as a black and white dichotomy. This is why freedom is so important and so fundamental to our existence too – because really consciousness and life could be defined as the capacity for choice. Some would say life means being ‘aware’ but is an amoeba aware? Probably not – so rather the bit we associate with life must be the unpredictability – the ability for it to choose rather than just follow a set of predefined rules.
How Freedom Gets Taken Away
Now if you listened to your teachers at school you may have remembered them saying things along the lines of ‘you always have a choice’ and that’s true to an extent. Of course at any moment you would have the ability to choose to stop breathing and so in that regard you always have some element of choice.
But at the same time you can have choices taken away from you and that’s how someone can take our freedom. If someone tells you where you can and can’t go for instance then they are taking away some of your freedom of choice and that means you’re less free. If someone tells you what to do then by the same token they are putting limits on what you can do and this means you’ll be less free. And in a way the very purpose of your ‘consciousness’ is undermined to an extent – which is why things like human trafficking are so terribly inhumane.
In some cases as well we will lose freedom and this won’t be due to the way anyone else has acted. For instance if you are very poor or very disabled then you lose options and become less free. Here you have fewer courses of action available to you so again you are not as free as you could be – you rely on others to help you regain some of that freedom.
Freedom can also be undermined in more subtle ways. For instance if someone is raised in a certain way with limiting beliefs then they may even become less free in their own thoughts. Some people live in such fear, and have become so used to it, that even their thoughts are moderated completely reducing their ability to choose and think freely.
Freedom then, and choice, can be taken away in many ways, and this is why it’s so incredibly important that those of us who are blessed enough to have it choose to help others to regain it.
Author Byline: Lisa Goodman is a gifted writer. Her blogs not only inspire you to think but also to act on that thought.